Thursday, October 09, 2008

 

When Kindness Feels Like a Slap in the Face

When I picked Mina up from kindergarten this afternoon, her teacher asked me to wait to speak with her. I step aside and my pulse quickens as I try to imagine what mistake I have made as the teacher individually bids farewell to to the remaining members of the class. On Tuesday we had a parent-teacher conference and everything went well. Toshi even asked if he really needs to come with me all the time, because I seem to understand everything and do most of the talking. I ask Mina if she knows what her teacher wants to talk to me about. She shakes her head. Finally her teacher approaches, pulls a flyer out of her apron and tells me that the the principal thought I might find this information useful. It is an advertisement for free Japanese lessons for foreigners organized by the city. "We aren't saying that you have to go; we just thought you might be interested." Oh. Oh, well, thank you so very much and please thank the principal for her kindness as well. Oh, look there she is now, I can thank her personally myself. Thank you, thank you, really, thank you. We walk through the gate, turn the corner, and here they come, predictable as ever, the tears that advertise my shame to the world. Yes, I did say that as soon as Sam enters preschool I hope that I will have more time to study and yes, I am always complaining about how crap my Japanese is and I do realize that I apologize every other day for my inability to speak Japanese properly, but that is part of speaking Japanese properly! I swear, I am trying as hard as I possibly can. First, I want to give up. Just forget it. I can speak Japanese well enough to communicate. My Japanese is not pretty, but it is functional. Who cares? Then, I want to set unrealistic goals for myself. I'll show them. I am going to pass the first level of the Japanese language proficiency test if it kills me (and it just might, the test is that difficult). Then, I face the facts. I am embarrassed that I have lived in this country for nine years, I am not fluent in the language and it shows. If I know myself at all, I will probably turn off the computer, wipe the running mascara off my cheeks and dig out the old textbooks. Still, this blow to my confidence could not come at a worse time. Next month I have to sit through two interviews in Japanese. One with the principal mentioned above, who so kindly expressed her concern for my deficiency. The other with the principal of the elementary school, who also happens to be a Catholic nun. So much for letting go of my security blanket (aka: Toshi).

Comments:
Oh my dear, you have worked SO hard. And this is the middle of a long stretch without a visit home. I hear you, I really do.
Here's something to consider: Toshi's suggestion that you go to the interviews on your own is a definite vote of confidence in you.
And... maybe it's an improvement that the teachers aren't squealing "nihongo ga JOOZU!" every time you say ohayoo. They know you are in it for the long haul, and they are trying to help. I know, it's so twisted I don't know if you can even call it backhanded. Me, I've seen an inkling of how far you've come, and I think you are amazing. Love you!
 
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