Saturday, March 17, 2007


Universal Studios! No, some mums couldnt' come.

African Safari! No, too cold.

Bowling. Boring. Those words are pronounced the same here. Isn't that enough of a hint?

But we ended up going bowling for Lena's end-of-year kindy event. It crossed no-one's mind to book, and the place was crowded, so I had a moment's hope as the possibility was discussed that we might not be able to fit it. But a slot was found, only we had to wait 30 minutes! The children were perfectly happy. Next to the incredibly noisy lanes was an even noisier game centre, with slot machines and video games and a hockey game. They didn't even need money, like kids everywhere they thought they were someone affecting the sample display on the screen. And they were quite content to invent their own version of hockey with no pucks, just slamming the round puck-hitting handles down the table to each other.

So the wait was pleasant for them. We mums discussed Lena's party, where to have lunch, what to wear to the graduation, and I lingered over a cup of hot chocolate (I'm still off coffee). With typical Japanese efficiency, everyone had to finish and start at the same time, and everyone had to wait for the last people to finish the last game. Fortunately those people were in 'our' lane, which minimized the frustration of waiting for no-one to finish nothing. Then we had to wait for the clean-up.

Finally we got to play! Or rather, the kids did, which was fine by me. They picked up the basics very quickly, and their various methods of getting the ball to go down the lane were adorable - much more fun than boring bowling usually is! (There were guards up along the gutters that the balls bounced off, otherwise every child would have had a gutter ball every single time!)

Then Lena blew us all away by being really good at it, a born natural! I don't even know how she lifted that ball, let alone let it fly down the lane. It bounced off the gutter guards, so she would have been stuffed without them, but she had a way of putting a spin on that ball that sent it crashing into the leftover balls nearly every time! She ended up with a score of 69, and would have won if it was not for one child's older brother, aged 8 or 9 who had clearly done it before. She beat Amy, who got 50, and the other kids, who got between 33 and 55. Everyone kept asking if she had done this before, but no, this is her first time, I responded, dumbfounded. I assured them this talent was not from me - last time I played, my score was around 40, so was Kanji's - we had to combine our scores to get anywhere near the other players!

She was so proud of herself. She reacted at first with a poker-faced shyness typical of her, looking almost upset, and definitely in disbelief. But as she went on she got more confident, and finished each bowl with a balletic flourish, raising her hands above her head in a very delicate way, then slipping to the floor on her knees to watch the ball go down the lane (they bowled so slowly, it took some time for ball to get to the pins). I was so happy for her - she had had quite a breakdown a few weeks earlier, when she just couldn't draw as nicely as Amy. Everyone is always commenting on Amy's drawing ability, and Lena, like most little girls her age, loves to draw and color, and it was hard for her to always be in her sister's shadow. I think we're all happy she found something she can do better!

I should add that Amy had a wonderful time too, and wants to return for her birthday. I was proud of her too, because she didn't mind in the least that Lena was better than her, in fact she was very proud of her champion sister, and cheered her on.
From left: Keito, Yuto, Kyosuke and his Mum behind him, Koshi's Mum and Koshi, with Kyosuke's sister Sachi in front, Keito's brother Yuju, Amy, Lena and Maia

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