Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Branden's High School Taiikusai...

Tuesday, May 2nd was Branden's first ever high school Taiikusai, which basically just means Sports Day. It's basically an undokai, but you apparently can't call it that in high school. @_@ But, in Japan we called it undokai in yochien and we called it undokai in elementary school. At our local JHS we called it an undokai. But at the high school level, it's called something completely different. But it's the same thing really. Which is just Sports Day. To even confuse you further, I have a friend who lives in Tsukuba and her daughter's JHS they call it taiikusai. So to be safe, just check and see how your child's JHS calls it. It could go either way. But high school it should all be switched to taiikusai. This is why in America it's easier Field Day can be any grade and so can Sports Day. But here...apparently not the case, lol. : )  Anyway this was 1 day before Golden Week would begin for us. And after this 1 Sports Day, we were off for the next 6 days. So Sports Day was going to be awesome and just something for us to sit and enjoy and watch. And then 6 days off in a row. I asked B, a week before...what he would like for me to prepare for lunch for his first ever Sports Day in high school. I usually always make karaage obento, rice balls, fruit, a garden salad. I pack some lemonade. Anyway...this time he requested sandwiches. It caught me a little off guard. Since I usually make karaage obento for Sports Day. But with **so** many foreigners at his school now. So many hafu at his school now. There are 2 sisters with red hair, now you know in Japan you can't dye/color your hair so this is 100% natural as in...naturally red hair as in Nicole Kidman red as in Anne Of Green Gables red. 1 is a 12th grader and her little sis in a 10th grader, new student same grade as B. It's so multicultural. Kids from all sorts of countries. Many from so many different western countries. Like there are families from seriously... everywhere. It's like..."It's a Small World After All" this school. You walk and you hear English as you walk down the hall. And with living in rural Japan and sending my kids to regular Japanese school before now. It's sorta an adjustment for us all. In rural Japan... when I go to observation day for example... I was always that 1 western face in the crowd. That 1 western/American mama at observation day. That 1 mama whose native language was English and not Japanese. Here....so many foreigners. So many westerners. So many hafu. So many different religions. And I love it! I love not sticking out. My kids love not sticking out. It's a welcome change. It's just such a new different thing for us. And so...5 days after school started for Branden. He asked me to just make him American lunch for his school lunch from then on. I used to make him sandwich twice a week in JHS and Japanese 3 times a week. Western-ized Japanese...like chicken teriyaki obento. Not traditional Japanese obento. But since high school started. He asked for just 100% American lunches now. And I do "get it" ....because now he's with others like himself. And he wants to have American lunch. The 2 Chinese students bring traditional lunches from their country. The hafu Thai boy brings Thai lunches. The westerners bring western lunch. Here everyone can be what they want and bring what they want. There is no huge pressure to conform to Japanese traditional ways at this school. Individuality is really respected here. And other cultures are also respected. One of Bran's best friends is Muslim and that's so totally cool and fantastic. The diversity here is so good. And so yeah...if Branden feels for "right now" he wants to bring American lunches or more western style lunches okay. Not a problem. Besides sandwiches are way easier anyways. So that's fine. But yeah...he asked for sammy's for Sports Day. And I didn't mind. Because #1...do you know how time consuming it is to make a karaage obento from scratch? So a sandwich obento is 10 times easier. And since that's what he asked for. No problem. Oh also there's an 11th grade girl who looks like Noah so much, it's funny! She's hafu but she's really western looking... just like Noah is and she has soft medium brown colored hair just like Noah does and she has long girly hair but yeah she looks exactly like Noah. And every time she sees Noah she just stares at him, lol. @_@ So anyways...I bought 3 fresh loaves of baguette from the bakery in the small city nearest us the day before. 
I made a huge baguette sandwich for Branden, Noah and Noboru. I had a salad instead. 
The kids like their ham skillet fried a bit in a pan. Noboru likes his ham cold right out of the package. That's okay I can make both ways. : )
We were in a huge gymnasium with stadium seating. Branden had a pounding headache around 10am. But I did give him 2 Advil and he took them and he was back to normal by lunch. He enjoyed his lunch. And we enjoyed ours. This was my salad. It had lettuce, cucumbers, mini tomatoes avocado, cheese and a few pieces of chicken on it. This is the chicken you can buy at Mini Stop it's called "crunky chicken" not crunchy chicken. lol. It's a very filling salad. It's a whole meal. I thought the sandwich would be a bit too carb heavy for me. And the sandwich was so delicious and filling like I said, I didn't feel deprived or anything. I enjoyed my lunch very much. 

Macaroni salad and potato salad. Branden had his very own little mini container of it and it looked just like this only smaller. This one, Noboru, Noah and I enjoyed. Branden ate with his male classmates. 
I also baked a nice American dessert. I baked brownies with walnuts. I gave Branden a nice big brownie. And we were seated right next to the English course kids. All in all it was a really nice Sports Day. Branden came home with us as soon as Sports Day ended. We went out to dinner after Sports Day was finished. We went to the Ohsho (a delicious Chinese restaurant that's a chain throughout Japan) for dinner along the way from the school to home.

What did I learn about high school sports day? And again I only speak about our *particular specific* high school. So just keep that in mind.

The seating for us parents and families sucked. Everyone sat on the hardest metal seats on the planet. I was fine. But Noboru complained so much about the seats. "They're so uncomfortable" he said. He said that about 20 times during the day. Noah said it like 2 times. And at that point, I snapped at the both of them and said..."look we are here for SUPPORT of a family member, not for plush comfy seats. Yes, the seats are uncomfortable, but whining won't fix it. It just aggravates me to no end" I rarely get snappy. So, after I said my peace. I heard not a peep about the seats again. So seating...eh not fantastic. But to me...acceptable. And besides how picky can a person be, really?

Lack of parents or families. You have to sign in to enter the facility. They don't want just a random person with no affiliation to this school to enter. So they have a sign in. We signed in. And Noboru and Noah have teeny tiny bladders so they went to pee often. Super often. I am meanwhile a camel bladder and I didn't pee the entire day. Not something to be proud about...just saying tho! So around 2pm-ish they went to pee again and this Sports thing was set to end at 3:30pm. Noboru apparently went to see the sign up sheet for the English course with Noah. The girl who looks like Noah was standing there. Anyways Noboru said only 5 parents in the English course grade 1/the 10th grade showed up and signed in. @_@ Only 5. That number is incredibly low. Granted to be fair... it was a weekday maybe folks were working? But yeah...out of 37  tenth grade English kids, only 5 families showed. Ours being 1 of the 5. And no..we're not saints or angels. It's just...you know how I feel about family. Family to me is my *everything*. And if you have something an event or whatnot and you're my family...rest assured, I will be there to support you...to show up for you...and to cheer you on. That's just how I roll. We sat in the 10th grade parents section. And out of 216... 10th grade kids, there was maybe 20 parents and I am being fair and generous by saying 20. I did look across the stadium and could see about...50 parents on the other side...for 11th and 12th grade. So no...not huge amounts of parents show up to these? I am still learning, still trying to learn the ropes.

Another observation. Don't expect to talk to your high school kid often during high school Sports Day. The kids are quite busy. And when they're not doing something they're on the sidelines cheering for their classmates. At undokai in rural Japan, for example at elementary school and at JHS, the kids come to their parents picnic spot. And the student enjoys lunch with their family. And the kids come by and visit or wave a few times during the day. Branden and the other boys had a specific boy place to eat their lunch at during the taiikusai.  Girls could eat anywhere. But since there are so few boys they made a special room aside just for the boys to eat their lunch in private. Spoiled boys!!! Hahaha. And though we were sitting right smack dab right next to the English course kids. I could see Branden was really enjoying hanging with his friends. And I don't want to overdose "mom" him...ykwim... so I waited until he came to talk to us. I didn't want to baby him or anything. I let him have his space and if he needed something or wanted to talk, I was right there.  Yes he did come and talk to us about 5 times during the day. And he smiled and stuff and his friends were so polite and greeted us and spoke with us in English of course, lol. And one of his classmates told Branden.."your brother looks *really* good" LOL. And yes Noah was beyond weird-ed out hearing that. The non-stop gaggle of girls who passed Noah all throughout the day saying how kawaii or kakkoii Noah was..was fine...he gets that often anyways... but the whole..."you're brother looks *so* good" comment completely weird-ed out my 11 year old. Noah was like. "What a weirdo, whoever said that!!!" LOL. So while everyone was really nice and respectful. I would say...the entire day...we spoke to Branden maybe a grand total of 7 minutes all the times we saw him that day combined. It did give me pause and wonder..."do I need to show up for this next year?" Hmm. Maybe...maybe not though. Oh and fwiw, 2 mom's absolutely loved my picnic basket and said what a fantastic picnic basket it was. Fwiw...I bought it at Cainz Home for 800 yen like 10 years ago or something like that. I remember it was at Cainz Home and I know I was in Ibaraki and it is fully lined.

Another observation. There are no parent races and no parent participation required like at elementary school and JHS. So parents at high school sports day...you are totally off the hook.

My last thing I learned and probably the best thing I learned is. High School Sports day is actually fun for the kids! The kids are not mindless robots. If your kid has ever experienced elementary in Japan or JHS then you'll know exactly what I am talking about. In elementary school and JHS for example. By the time you parents actually go to undokai day and watch it. Your child has already had practice for the undokai for about 45 school days straight. They have sat out in the sun. I know of 2 girls who have literally fainted flat on the floor during undokai practice because they were kept outside for hours under harsh Japanese summer heat in our town. Coupled with lots of activity and few and far between times to get a drink of a thermos and you're just asking for kids to be fainting away. Also...the races have all been run...the kids already know after running against one another 45 days in a row who will be coming in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. They have practiced the songs on their recorders or pianica for the umpteenth time. Branden has told me in elementary school and JHS..."I hate the undokai it's so fake." "We are not having fun. And we already know who will win the races." And Noah agrees. However...Branden's high school Sports Day. It's not practiced at all. They tell you. Boys you will play basketball against each other. On that day good luck. The girls were told they will be playing volleyball. They did not practice it not even 1 time. Kids wore crazy funky zany hats, some wore wigs or costumes. 1 girl was Mario, another girl was Luigi. There was a Studio Ghibli ghost. Nobody had any idea who would win. Nobody cared about winning at all either. The entire point of this high school sports day was for the kids to have fun. @_@ I snapped over 300 pics of the kids all smiling. Genuine laughter. There's no strict robot style, like how it is in elementary school and JHS where you must be in neat straight little rows and lines. Kids were laughing. Kids brought their cell phones and were taking selfies. Half of the kids brought packed lunches from home, but half brought conbini obento or bought bakery breads. The kids were just kickin' it. And having a ton of fun. This *greatly* reminded me of my sports day experience in America. I mean..it's no big deal. There's no pressure. This is so funny but...they had a "race" where they pitted club against club. Branden did join a high school club. He's in the English club because it's only 1 day a week and is only 1 hour long. And they watch American movies, play American board games, they sang karaoke last week, all of their songs had to be in English, and Branden said everyone had so much fun. LOL. And no English club over Summer break,  no English club over Christmas break,  and not over Spring break. Because their club teacher is Canadian and he actually has a good life outside of school and would actually like to enjoy it. And believe me...I get it! And it's so refreshing. So anyways...It was an "osoji race" where everyone had a cleaning rag and it was a relay race. The girl who looks like Noah is also in the English club. So J ran with the rag and he pushed it across the floor and then passed it to Branden. And Branden rubbed that rag against the floor as fast as he could. And then passed it to the girl who looks exactly like Noah. And then to another western girl and it went right down the row. Club versus club. This looked so fun... kids were going crazy laughing and the whole gym was screaming and shouting and cheering. Noah was laughing so hard! It was *not* a Sports Day that they practiced 45 times beforehand. It was just a real Sports Day. Where the focus was on...are the kids enjoying themselves? Are the kids having fun? Again...having lived in Japan for 14 years and having observed regular "Japan style" Sports Day. This is very surprising for us.

Noboru said during Bran's Sports Day. I am so glad we found this school for Branden. He looks *so* completely happy going here.  And I agree. This school does give me a slight case of reverse culture shock! LOL! But, I'm sure I'll get used to it soon. But other then that. It's a high school dream and he's so happy going here! Anyway, that's the long and short of Bran's Sports Day.