Sunday, February 16, 2014

Help! My Children are Japanese! Episode I

Typical Japanese children
The Salaryman family live in our little housing community in the outskirts of Tokyo in an area populated almost exclusively by Japanese. I have seen one white British guy on a few occasions who lives somewhere in the area and our neighbor with a Chinese wife, but that's basically it.

The environment that little Ms. Sunshine and Salaryman Jnr. are growing up in a typical modern Japanese one, but I was anyway hoping that they might grow up with a little broader view of the world than most Japanese kids. However, it seems like my hopes were futile and in this fantastic brand new series I will document the key moments where I have come to realized that my offspring are Japanese...

A few months back I was sent back to the old country for business and since my visit was for a few weeks and the home office very accommodating and helpful, I decided to bring the whole Salaryman family over as a team-building exercise. Some of Mrs. Sunshine's main concerns were the lack of proper Japanese rice in Sweden and the lack of a bath tub in the apartment we were going to stay. I swiftly ignored her concerns with a casual "they're kids, they'll eat whatever cheap rice we put in their feeding through and won't even notice!" and "they'll be fine without a bath, they have strong Swedish genes in them!".

I think it goes without saying that I was wrong... Terribly wrong...

We first tried with regular non-sticky long corned rice but that was met with a frowned nose and refusal to eat by little Ms. Sunshine and Jnr. Salaryman throwing the rice all over the room except in his mouth. Next, we tried with jasmine rice which I sheepishly thought might be received a little more favorably, but again frowning faces and rice ending up all over the room. Finally relenting, we resorted to buying expensive "sushi rice" which was the only thing we could find in the area where we stayed. Annoyingly for me the kids launched into that as hungry wolves while Mrs. Sunshine gave me a "told you so" stare.

That's not to mention the struggle to get the kids in the shower after the dinner. The screams of terror, fear and desperation that we had to endure every day during shower time we have not experienced since that time. After a few days of going through this I was starting to despair and went to a local toy store and luckily found (despite it being off summer season) a small inflatable pool that would fit into the shower room. 

Again... With the inflatable pool inserted as a poor bathtub substitute, the kids turned from miserable hellions to smiling angels, happily giggling away and again cooperating all of a sudden. Of course, while I got the "told you so" stare again from Mrs. Sunshine...

I should just have the bathtub physically removed from our house, after a few years they should been weaned off it!


Theresa said...

Oh, Mr. Salaryman, I have a large sized happiness that you've come back. Thank you!

Sarahf said...

Yup, they're Japanese.Although, I refused to take a shower until I was about 7, made mornings so much fun for my Mum!

pjk said...

Glad to have you back, Mr. Salaryman. As for the children eating, you should've just taken a bottle of that good ol' chili oil with you and spiced the normal rice with that. Would've gone down almost as fast as it comes out.

TokyoOctopus said...

> I decided to bring the whole Salaryman > family over as a team-building exercise

That sounds very corporate of you. I trust each family member is bringing commensurate value to the enterprise as a whole and has demonstrated their cohesiveness in competitive market conditions.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Theresa - Thank you! Happy to hear that I am not completely forgotten!

Sarahf - Indeed, it is human to dislike a shower and there is a much bigger point to the baths in winter!

pjk - No kidding! I actually missed it!

TokyoOct - Well, so far the family morale is good and productivity ok, but we'll see how it is after the yearly performance reviews! We might start implementing a 360 feedback system at home too, I just need to figure out how to prevent negative feedback on me

aimlesswanderer said...

We were in Japan over winter, and the baths were great since we don't have one at home.

Maybe try and mix in some foreign rice and gradually increase the proportion?

So that if you do venture out of Japan again, they might be able to eat something.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the same has happened to me, when I was back in Germany with my kids (then 3 and 5), who have grown up in Japan. Rice was awful, although the German "Milchreis" (milk rice) cooked with water instead of milk was acceptable, with lots of fukrikake we had brought from Japan. We had also brought lots of udon noodles, which by the end of our stay had also become very popular with the German cousins.

The shower remains a problem even though the children are older now, so we take them to the pool whenever possible. They do actually like the German pool, where they do not have to wear a cap and do radio-taiso every hour!

Evangeline Neo said...

Glad you are back salaryman! This is Evacomics from

I'd moved back to Singapore since Oct last year but I still continue to draw comics about Japan. Your stories about child raising is interesting because I have a nephew with me. Luckily we have Disney Junior Channel and Cartoon Network :PPP

Anonymous said...

I don't want to tell you how to do your job, but I don't think parenting is a matter of culture as much as it is a matter of discipline.
You should not give in to your children's whims, you need to make sure they understand that what you say goes, otherwise they'll become spoiled and think they can get whatever they want by throwing a tantrum; and today it may be rice, but tomorrow it may be something you're not willing to give in about.
You don't even need to punish them for their bad behavior, simply ignore it, they'll eventually learn that throwing a tantrum is useless and stop doing it.
For example, if they don't want to eat regular rice then don't force them, but don't run out to buy them something else, they're kids they have no way to get food other than what you offer, when they're hungry they'll have to sit down and eat whatever is there to eat.
If you want them to have a broader view of the world then you need to either take them somewhere else or spend more time with them doing non-Japanese things.

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