Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peeping

Some time in the recent past, in a corridor in a certain building in the city of Yokohama, here in Japan, a group of women were standing in a line. All the women were Japanese, and they were standing facing the windows of a certain room.

The windows had been papered over, but eyeholes had been cut in the paper at heights suitable for Japanese women, so they could peer inside at the captives who were incarcerated in the room. Some of the captives were males of the species, some female.

The women seemed amused by what they were observing, peeping at the creatures who were on display, who were oblivious of the fact that they were on display.

Because I was there, standing in that line, doing my own share of peeping, the one and only man mixed in with the women, I could observe their behavior and could hear what they were saying.

"Boys attack to girls!" said one of the Japanese women.

I looked, and, yes, sure enough, a group of four boys had attacked to a pair of girls, who they had bailed up in a corner. One of those girls was my three-year-old daughter, Aiko Cornucopia Boadicea Nishikawa, and the Japanese woman who had spoken in English was my wife, the elegant Murasaki Nishikawa.

We had gone to the local daycare center for an official peeping morning. It was scheduled during the working week, which was why no fathers were there, apart from me. All the fathers had to be at work. Under normal circumstances, my wife would have been at work, too, but she had taken time off for the peeping, which started at 0900 and was to finish at twelve noon.

The current sumo tournament is in full swing, and, inspired by this, wife and daughter have recently been practicing sumo in the living room. So I watched the attacked girls keenly, hoping to see some sumo technique brought into play against the aggressive girls. But I couldn't see what was happening because the girls disappeared from view as the boys pressed home the attack, at which point a teacher broke it up.

When I show up at the daycare center to drop off my daughter in the morning and to pick her up in the evening, all the kids are usually rushing around like maniacs, and this what a lot of them were doing. Naturally, a certain number of boys were, from time to time, bashing other boys, requiring the teachers to do more conflict control. But, while we were there, only one bashed boy actually burst into tears.

While most of the boys were active and aggressive, a group of three were quietly playing together in the center of the room, doing nurturing stuff with dolls and blankets. This was what some of the girls were doing, too.

Cornucopia seems to be flourishing at the daycare center. She's usually in a good mood when I pick her up in the evenings, and runs around outside for fifteen minutes or so before we head for home.

Developmentally, her language skills are coming along pretty impressively, although the language she is acquiring is mostly Japanese. Toilet training continues to be a work in progress, and recently my wife has drawn my attention to the fact that she has been over-doing the thumb sucking, something which I'm told she has promised to stop.

On the bright side, after enormous difficulties involving evening toothbrushing, Cornucopia has finally decided that, yes, she will brush her teeth. Without a fuss. When she's in the mood.

It was interesting to see the little kids in action. As I watched, a little uncomfortably because I was bent over to stoop to peep at holes set at Japanese woman height, I wondered if my wife regretted having abandoned her initial career track. Originally, her first professional training had been as a teacher of little itty-bitty kids. Did she regret the road not taken? I didn't think so.

What struck me about the scene in the daycare center was just how hard the staff work. You've got to keep your eye on a million things at once, always aware that the capabilities of little kids run far in advance of their wisdom and discretion.

In terms of financial compensation, people who work with little kids are right at the bottom of the educational heap, but I don't really think that's appropriate. Working with little kids is some of the hardest work there is, and, also, in my view, some of the most important work there is.

I left the peep show after about an hour, because I was tired. And, additionally, had computer work I wanted to get done. My wretched XP system had fallen over again, this time refusing to read the SanDisk in a card reader. Additionally, the Paint program had fallen over, much to my displeasure, as I was in the middle of making a map for a fantasy book I have in progress, ANOINTED OF KINGS.

A couple of days later, after I'd finished reverting the computer to factory conditions, Paint was working again, and I got the map finished. The map is at the top of this blog entry, and, all going to plan, will feature on the back cover of ANOINTED OF GOD, which looks, at this stage, as if it is going to be the next novel that I finish and get published, probably some time this year.

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