Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations... Toddler Adventures

16th May 2008 - The good and bad thing about babies (or toddlers) is that you never know what's going to happen... even in the relative safety of the company of family and friends. L-kun was having a great time in Japan, and all was going well.... I think you know where this is going...

Anyhow on the 16th May, we visited Auntie-S who has a nice place in Sapporo... but also, has unexpected NEW things (like furniture, walls, electrical devices). As a new(ish) parent, you always approach every new environment with a slight degree of trepidation, and there's usually a 10 second inspection+review of what could (possibly) go wrong after stepping through the doorway of any new home or building. 

After establishing that the ceilings were more-or-less safe, we decided to relax a little. We were, after all, visiting relatives. However, as is often the way with parenting... it's when you think you're safe that accidents happen. Whether it's your own home, or 1000's of km away... and whilst most parents are sub-consciously aware of this principle, there's nothing that can be done. Nothing. Let's just say babies+gravity+coffee table are not a good combination... and generally this equation ends up equalling tears. There is however an almost  inevitable attraction between these three things.

That night L-kun discovered another great thing about Japan... home remedies. Apparently prune juice (and by juice I reallly mean thick, inedible concoction that most probably doubles as paint-stripper... it's known as MIKI Prune Extract) is considered at least by Okaasan+S-Auntie as being pretty well good for everything that childhood can dish up. Including contusions and general wear and tear. It also has an added benefit of looking worse than it actually is...

As a naive Aussie husband, I could only look on with wonder. By that, I mean I really wonder at the science of what my wife was doing. Hold on... prune juice. And that's supposed to do what now?

Hmmm... you quickly learn that cultural differences do not stop with language, but extend to just about every facet of our daily life experience. You can either struggle against it, or shrug your shoulders and pose the age-old-question... what's the harm in trying?

Did it work?... well it certainly helped out the parents (especially T-chan), and if that increased relaxation is picked up by your child, then I guess it's not a bad thing.

In hindsight, I wonder why I never once had any compunction to taste L-kun's head to see if he tasted like prune... perhaps because T-chan's family always kept me well fed.


  1. I love this post! You are so right. Cultural differences enter each and every aspect of our lives. I've come to the conclusion that "Why fight it?" is the best attitude to have. Why question every little thing? Why worry if something different will work or not? It obviously has worked for the person suggesting it. And unless it is obviously dangerous, I've learned to go with the flow. I remember when my babies were itty-bitty and the Japanese in my life were constantly telling me that he was cold and should have on a cap - even in the warm house. At first I held my ground - who knows my baby better than I, afterall. But eventually I learned that if I just cover his head the first time they mention it, I won't have to hear the same thing over and over. And really, do you think he cared if his head was covered or not? Not even a little bit. If the only outcome is a calm grandmother - well, that's good enough, right?

  2. Thanks Angie. I think each and every one of us with cross-cultural families experience these sorts of things. And it goes both ways of course.

    I have to admit to often being skeptical, but at the end of the day, life and relationships is about compromise... and being happy to try different things. Even if you're still doubting just a little on the inside.

  3. Awww. Poor L-kun. I've seen that look so many times before. I've never heard of prune juice or anything like that being used in that way. One more fascinating thing about Japan ^_^

  4. Yeah - but T-chan's a skeptic... and she thinks it might be something more about S-Auntie's theories than something particularly Japanese. There's so many little home remedies out there.

  5. Ah. Fascinating nonetheless :)