Three years ago today — just 1,095 days ago — the word responsibility took on a whole new dimension as the boy exited the womb to begin a life all his own. People are justifiably nervous about becoming a parent. Raising children is never easy and most of us are painfully aware of our own flaws which can lead us to wonder just how poorly we'll prepare a new human for the challenges that await them in life. Fortunately children don't know just how often their progenitors are flying by the seat of their pants. Or, if they do, they're incredibly forgiving … at least until adolescence.
My parents used to say that they learned just as much from their kids as we learned from them. This struck me as odd 30 years ago, given that parents have generally already lived through a childhood and have nothing to learn from witnessing another one. However, as my perspective has broadened over the years, it's easy now to see what they meant. There's a great deal the boy has taught me in his short time on the Earth, from the universality of "universal" symbols to the ease at which people can navigate crowds when they're a metre tall to the joy one can feel just by playing in some water. My parents would often say bizarre things that had me wonder if they were ever children at all, like "Kids don't get headaches" and "But you like liver" and just about anything that started with "Back in my day …". Now I hear myself say variations of these things1 more often than I care to admit.
Hopefully the efforts Reiko and I have made to ensure he's on the straight path to being a good person have paid off, though. Next week, on his 1,103rd day of life, the boy will attend kindergarten for the first time. There will undoubtedly be many tears, friends, fears, laughs, and a myriad of firsts on that Monday, and it will also be the day when he begins to truly explore what this world has to offer. For three years Reiko and I worked to prepare him and we're nowhere near finished with this responsibility. But he generally knows how to behave in public, how to read the three basic character sets used in Japan2, how to use utensils when eating along with the basic etiquette that is expected. He's been practicing using the toilet and dressing himself with a fair degree of success. He can speak both English and Japanese like someone a full year older, too3. Hopefully one of the first things he learns during the first few months at school is the freedom that comes with a little independence.
These last three years have gone by in what seems like a flash. As the boy continues to develop into his own person, I hope we can continue to enjoy some slow moments together.
I don't force my kid to eat liver. Heck, I won't eat the stuff, so why in the world would I foist such a thing on him? No … he will not be forced to eat any food that I myself will not eat no matter how "good" it might be for us.
These would be Hiragana, Katakana, and the English alphabet.
Reiko loves to talk. The boy has clearly inherited this trait, which has resulted in a kid with the ability to report every activity he does in two languages without any need to stop for air.