Saturday, December 11, 2010

Modes of Transport... Doraemon to Pooh to First Steps

19th May, 2008 - It was rapidly approach L-kun's 1st birthday... and this post is a parent's indulgence... so please bare with me. Today I wanted to talk about a small matter of defying gravity... and the wonder that is vertical movement. It's something that we often take for granted, unless we've had a few too many to drink (a real possibility for many of us as Christmas - and the end of year - looms up before us).

Japan, in many ways is a children's paradise. Not only are parents spoiling their children but grandparents are also taking on a lot of those parenting duties as well (i.e. spoiling the children even more). Not far from our house, there is an Aeon shopping centre... one of our usual haunts when staying at home in Sapporo. And as most parents know, taking babies/toddlers around shopping can be a draining experience. One of the solutions that the Aeon store provides, free of charge, is a range of trendy baby-cars.

L-kun's favourite's were Doraemon, Anpanman and Pooh-san (Winnie the Pooh). It was particularly great for us as we hadn't brought a stroller with us to Japan - and it was great for the L-kun as he had lots to distract himself with. As L-kun had not started walking as yet, anything that kept us moving that didn't involve us carrying him was a blessing. But more on L-kun's vertical movement challenge shortly.

I'm sure that sometimes L-kun was just a little concerned that there was something wrong with the car's mechanical soundness. It often seemed not to go where he wanted... TURN LEFT YOU INFERNAL MACHINE... THE TOYS ARE TO THE LEFT!...  THE LEFT, I SAY!

As I mentioned above, L-kun had not started walking as yet. Something that his parents (reads mostly Daddy) were a little stressed about. Why... well, I guess I'm just naturally one of those anxious parents. I mean, wouldn't it be good if there was a fixed schedule for these things... like car services.

Anyhow... back at home, we had been trying a new mode of training for L-kun... Pooh movement. Ah... perhaps an unfortunate choice of words. One of L-kun's favourite toys at home was his Winnie-the-Pooh car (a present from Ojiichan and Obaachan). We had thought that it was good for him to go driving around the house, but it turned out to be a better walking support than anything else.

One day we had discovered that it made a very versatile Zimmer frame (for supported walking). Ok - it wasn't perfect... holding on to the back kind of reduced options for steering, and it sort of lacked any effective brakes at all (bar falling on one's bottom).... this was not necessarily a good design feature when combined with wheels that allowed uncontrolled forward movement a very likely reality. Hence the Mummy-Safety-Net in the photos below. From that time on, he was a keen Pooh-walker. Up and down the lounge room, L-kun would be walking AND smiling.... proud of his Pooh mobility.

And around he'd go... up and down...down and up...up and around, around and down... 

That is, until Pooh technical difficulties finally brought his adventure to an end... apparently the turbo charger had quit on his Pooh-car, and the suspension was completely shot too. 

And when, at the end of the day, you've run out of support. Then there's nothing left but to take matters into your own hands... or should that be feet?

Now for a brief aside... on our annual trips to Japan, it's common for T-chan to go earlier or stay later... to spend time with her parents without having to worry about Ben-chan. This trip was no different, and as a result I was going to be coming home alone earlier... leaving L-kun and T-chan in Japan for quite a few weeks. In truth - I had been quite anxious that I would miss L-kun's first steps. Three days before his 1st birthday, and 4 days before I was due to leave Japan... L-kun did his first steps. First one foot... and then the other. They weren't many, but they were his first.

It may be easy to think of this blog as being just our holiday snaps... and, in truth, I guess it is. But it's also more than that. Intertwined within these holiday moments in Japan, our real life is played out, sometimes painfully upon that international stage. The sadness of possibly missing out on the magic moments of your child's life are one of the consequences of having a slightly complex family arrangement. For the most part we accept the compromises that we need to make... for the rewards are always larger than the inconvenience. Sometimes you have to wonder about whether all of those compromises are really worth it. Luckily this was one compromise I didn't feel any regret over.

I was so happy to have been there to see his first steps. Thank you L-kun. Right on schedule...


  1. A completely entertaining post. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. As you know... children can be an endless source of entertainment (and a few tears as well). Never a dull moment!