April 20, 2008


Hey, we got the Rising Daughter’s Canadian citizenship papers! It took a reasonable amount of paperwork and a lot of time, but she is now a Canuck in addition to her Japanese citizenship. She's dual! To celebrate, I indulged in my last stash of Tim Horton’s regular grind coffee while eating an onigiri riceball.

So she is now a hoser in addition to being a (future) sushi eater. And that’s great--double the bureaucratic fun, two or maybe three languages to contend with, and being the brunt of lots of Doublemint chewing gum jokes? Or am I reaching here?

As a Canadian -- in addition to being proudly Japanese -- Elena has to be able to explain the elusive and opaque aspects of Canadian culture in the future. As is common knowledge throughout the world, Canadians form a mysterious, inward-looking culture that is often hard for foreign peoples to fully grasp. This is due to the subtle and refined meanings inherent to the structure of the Canadian language, and incomprehensible local dialects such as Ottawa Valley-speak, or Lower Sackville-ese. Strict adherence to social customs to maintain the harmony between individuals and groups, for example at mall parking lots or peewee hockey games, is also something that Canadians must be able to clarify to perplexed foreigners. It's a tall order even for an adult, so I have decided to begin Elena's 'education Canadiana' immediately.

I decided to focus on the following CanGov-GovCan approved citizenship modules:

1. The Beaver

2. Bob & Doug

3. Canadian Currency

More on this soon. But great news, eh?

April 12, 2008

Cute Phobias Banished?

Babies do cute things; that’s a given. But the most innocent behaviors sometimes produce an even higher cute factor. Take, for example, Lady E.’s odd aversion to two seemingly innocuous items: balloons and an air pump. Huh? Balloons have friendly and non-threatening shapes, and feature bright colors and inviting textures that beg them to be swatted around by little hands. So, when we were at a furniture store one day recently and Elena recoiled in horror when the salesperson handed us a balloon, we were mystified. Why? The sound? Just ‘one of those things’?

We tried repeated exposures to reduce her fear of balloons. Each time she would hobble over to us at high speed and cling in fear to either Naomi or myself. Bizarre.

She showed the same odd reaction to…a light blue foot-operated pump for an air mattress. I thought perhaps it was the sound, but she freaks out at the sight or sound of it. It’s very endearing and I am still puzzled as to why this happens.
Elena is otherwise a typical toddler, and she isn’t afraid of the dark and most animals. Perhaps she's a bit shy around new people. (This is fine with us.)
So why was/is she frightened by balloons and air pumps as the bogeyman? I have no idea.
We were at another department store that has a kids’ area with a room, enclosed with mesh netting, that has balloons propelled about by compressed air. It’s a loud and dynamic mini-environment. We decided to take a chance. I went in (OK, I wanted to go in just for myself, I also enjoy the colorful chaos) followed by Naomi, and we enticed our rising daughter into the fray. She slowly got used to it because Naomi and I were having a good time, too. Judging by the short video below, you can see that she started shrieking happily at the balloons and chasing them about the room.

It was fun to watch and just a little gratifying to see our beautiful daughter conquer one small fear.
Now, about that air pump….