04 March, 2009

emotional Japanese mums

Today I attended my last official Japanese kindergarten mother's meeting. Over the last seven years I have been to quite a number of such meetings. I have never encountered an exact equivalent to this concept in Australia. Especially the final meeting in the school year. It is a time of announcements and finishing off of details. But the most striking feature of this meeting is that the mums take turns around the circle (very Japanese) and express their thanks to the teacher as well as some remembrance from the year. What amazes me is that almost everyone cries. Today some could hardly speak for the sobs that shook them. Japanese are usually so unemotional in public. Even a funeral I went to some years back, I saw no crying. However in this context of farewell and remembering the year, they get emotional. Of course this time these mums are about to send their children off into the big wide world of school. However, where Aussie mums cry on the first day of school, Japanese mums seem to spend the month before saying goodbye to kindergarten...and crying. The tears aren't over yet. Next week the mums put on a big farewell party/concert for the kids. The week after the kindergarten puts on a graduation that befits a high school or university graduate. From an casual Aussie perspective, it is a little overdone, but then Japan loves ceremony. And they take goodbyes very hard. You might be asking - "Did you cry Wendy?" Well I have to admit my eyes were a little wet. Becuase it was all in Japanese, that negated some of the effect for me. I cannot express my deep emotions in this language and I didn't understand much of what people were saying, so the domino effect of tears didn't work so well for me. I did get a bit teary publicly expressing my thanks to my friend Mrs Uchida, who has translated many things for me during the last 3 years and become a good friend. We've spent a lot of time together, often seeing each other every day and sometimes spending long times chatting before and after kindy. Yes, I'll miss her. I am not sure if I'll miss the whole kindergarten thing, though. I am a bit tired of all the effort it is to be a kindergarten mum in Japan (at least in this kindergarten).

4 comments:

Catherine said...

Wow - that's really interesting. As you say, for a non-expressive culture, it seems strange (to us) for everyone to get so teary.

I am interested in hearing more about the where's and why's of it's an effort to be a kindergarten mum in Japan...

Simone R. said...

Many mums here cried on their kids' last day of kindy. Me? No. Cold and prickly.

Funny in a non-expressive culture, though.

Wendy said...

No, I'm pretty happy to see them growing up and needing me less. It depends a bit on your perspective. Self-esteem comes into it a little, I think. Some people just 'love' little kids and are not so impressed with older kids.

If I cry about anything, it will be a loss of my own friends, whom I will hardly see after this.

Stan and Faith said...

I remember the relief when I came to the end of the yochien season of life. It had been many years--over four children (the last two together). Blessings on the wrap up!