My husband Marc has taken the kids back to Tokyo to re-start their “real” lives. Bailey is a freshman at The American School in Japan (ASIJ) and my daughter, Sydney, started middle school, grade six, at Nishimachi International School (NIS). Both kids have been at their respective schools for a while and I couldn’t bear to take them out of their comfort zones, though I’d much rather have them here with me. (Look for a forthcoming post on the hardest thing I’ve ever done – I’m just not ready to write it yet.) They are for sure in the exact right places for them.
Though this whole cancer thing sucks, I have found a few silver linings to it, and I’m pleased to say that Marc has also found a few here and there. Case in point: the other day he said to me, “Sydney is really fun in the grocery store.”
This is something I knew already. Sydney is very good at spotting items on the list. She likes menu planning and then buying the planned ingredients. She likes finding a new item to try and even feeling produce to check for ripeness. She’s a good little shopper. In addition, when we’re in Japan, she likes reading signs, figuring out what things are, and calculating weights and costs in grams and yen. Her Japanese reading and speaking skills are coming along nicely and the grocery store is good practice.
Marc is also an excellent Japanese reader and speaker, so in addition to all of the fun things about Sydney in the store, he was able to show her certain Kanji symbols and discuss the language issues via food, Sydney’s favorite subject, which made everything more interesting for both of them. Marc has always enjoyed the kids musical and sporting events, and he and Bailey can discuss fantasy football and other sporting events and issues ad nauseum. However, it has been harder to find things he has is common with our girly-girl and so the grocery experience was great in more ways than one. Marc has been a great dad from day one with our kids, but he has never been the primary caretaker of them; that has been my job, except for a few weekends or a week here or there when I’ve been away. Now he has stepped up to do it in a big way while I stay in the U.S. for treatment – and is doing a great job of it so far.
So here’s the benefit: some serious dad and kid bonding. If I wasn’t sick, Marc would never have discovered Sydney’s talents in the grocery store. That very same day, the two of them went out to the ever-popular and crowded Azabu Juban festival near our house and had a blast together. If I was there, I would have gone, and though I really miss being there, I am delighted that my daughter and her dad had the opportunity to experience it together differently from how it would have been if I was there.
We have such great friends in Tokyo that I know Marc is going to have a lot of help with the kids – homework, caretaking, meals, etc – in the next four months while I’m in the U.S. But I also know that he will do a great job with everything himself and he and the kids will forge a new, strong connection that they might otherwise not have done. For that I am not sorry – it’s a little perk in a hailstorm of sorts. So in the end we will all emerge from the experience hopefully healthy, and in some ways be even better and stronger for it.