April 20, 2009

The Learning Begins II: Les Miserables

Lady E enjoyed the recent pre-kindergarten school spring break: we partied at the playground many times. But all good things must come to an end, and our manic toddler reluctantly donned her school uniform again when we escorted her to the pre-K’s school entrance ceremony.

Japan loves ceremony and protocol. In early April, school entrance events for pre-K anklebiters through to college students are held across Japan to celebrate the start of the new school year. This is also roughly the same time that cherry blossom viewing is rampant throughout the nation.

The blooming cherry petals blowing in the wind are supposed to represent a new start to the natural order of things, and so does the school entrance ceremony. That’s the ideal. What follows is the account of our reality.

We snapped a few pics at a local park to mark the occasion.
Then, it was off to the school itself. We entered the brightly decorated classroom that was quickly filling with harried parents (mostly moms, but a few dads, to my surprise). Cute little chairs were laid in neatly organized rows. The kids, oblivious to protocol, were climbing all over the chairs, but were behaving relatively well, while nervous parents furtively made small talk with other parents. I gather that there were some who knew each other, but most of us were new to the school and wanted to put our best family foot forward.

The teachers came out and lined up. A short welcome speech ensued in English and Japanese, and each shiny new student was marched up to the front of the class with mom or dad to receive his or her welcome gift and generally be recognized. This was followed by a short welcome from each homeroom teacher to their class.

Les Miserables
Time went by. Little children kids have short attention spans. Common knowledge, right?
One kid was wailing inconsolably throughout the whole ceremony. Other kids sat there passively, resigned to their fate. Others wandered around -- highly curious about what was going, looking at all the other little persons -- despite their parents’ protests and whispered admonitions. And the row of video cameras captured every moment for posterity.
Lady E. likes to rock. She does not like to stay still. To my shock, though, she behaved during her official entrance ceremony and we didn’t have to administer the kiddie Xanax we’d brought along just in case.

After about an hour, the formalities were over, and we left. Lady E, temporarily liberated from her new educational confines, began to sing joyously, and quite incomprehensibly, to the Disney songs playing on our car’s CD player. Maybe she thought that she was going back home for another spring break?Re: Don & Scott--Just want to see if anyone is reading this far....heh heh.

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