Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Here's me and Kanji at the izakaya we found on May 28 after about an hour of sad trudging through the city finding out just how many restaurants have a holiday on a Monday, including my first choice and favorite place, Bistro de Moulin. Walking towards it, we were already planning what to get - the 3000yen course or the 5000? Definitely the cheese board, and he'd have one glass of beer while I had one glass of champagne, then we'd share a bottle of wine. Suddenly he said, "What if it's not open. It's Monday". Oh horrors, I thought, having already planned out that cheese board and champers, and I started to get ready for the disappointment and plan other venues, while he tried to reassure me it would be open. It wasn't. Neither was the next place we tried, or the next. We were walking in circles by now, going round to check some place or another, doubling back to try another, checking menu boards on the way, going past one place to check another then coming back - the one we finally chose was one we had initially passed by, then came back to. It's a newish place, with the benefit of having private booths with seats, not tatami.
The food was fine, your nice 'modern' izakaya type stuff, not down-home smelly old guys type place (though the mizuna with EVERYTHING was a bit much!) Above, from left to right is chilli ebi, a sashimi platter, and a gobo salad (crispy shaved burdock root. Man that sounds rude!). I had wanted some nice wine, but izakayas and beer just go together so I was happy with that.
The best thing by far was the fried cheese. If you can't give me a cheese board, at least give me fried cheese! This is the BIGGEST fried cheese I've even seen, as fat as my fingers, but melted all the way through. I think I will go here again just for this dish.
But what I REALLY wanted to talk about was the babysitting.
This was the first time NZ Grandma babysat while we went out. Usually, the kids stay with Baachan for the night. Now, I can't fault Baachan - she's nearly 80 yet she takes them on, all three of them, feeds them, bathes them, and well I don't really care where or when or how they sleep, as long as they do, and I'm not there!! As she's gotten older, she's more likely to take them out to dinner rather than cook, or to call her daughter to take the kids shopping, but she still never says no, which I love her for!
But there is a difference in how the two grandmas see their role, how they react to problems, and how much they value the idea of me and Kanji as a couple going out.
First of all, we left Erica with a fever... my mum didn't blink an eye at this. Sick kid, so what? I would NEVER have been able to leave a feverish kid with Baachan, she still thinks of fevers as near death, while Mum sees them as, well, just a kid being a bit sick.
We got two calls from the kiddies that night, one to say goodnight, and one to tell us Erica was being sick. Lena called, and I could hear the commotion in the background, and got put on to Amy, and to Grandma, who APOLOGIZED for Lena having called us, she would never have let her call us if she'd known, but while Amy and Grandma were dealing with Erica, Lena had decided the best thing to do was to call Mum. If it had been Baachan, it would have been Baachan calling us, expecting us (me) to return home forthwith.
Because Mum not only viewed a sick kid differently, but viewed a parents' night out differently: to her, our night out together was important, and the kids should not expect to call us in the middle of it with random concerns, and especially not expect us to rush home at the slightest sign of trouble. She even told them off for calling us, and, as I said, apologized for disturbing us. I think if it had been Baachan, we would have had to come home pretty much straight away, acting all concerned, even if we did think she only had a slight cold...
In Japanese society, while the idea of 'couple time' is unusual, the idea of mothers having time away from their kids is almost completely unheard of. It's as if Baachan sees us as 'just popping out for a minute' but always ready to swoop back in if the chicks call for us. The moment a problem crops up, she'll call, with the expectation that we (I) will soon return home and fix everything.
We were so used to this that we groaned when we heard that second phone call, so sure it would beckon us home. It was an unexpected delight to find that, despite the illness and chaos, Grandma was coping just fine thank you, and you two stay out!!
So we did!