06 June, 2017

Last week was a blur

As predicted, these last two weeks have been crazy busy and my head is feeling pretty fuzzy. As a way of untangling myself, I'm going to give you a quick glimpse of the bigger events of last week.

Our eldest son turned 18. It almost got lost in the busy week. 

On Monday night he stayed up into the early hours of the morning finishing his final high school presentation that we watched the next morning at school. He spoke for thirty minutes about gender inequality in sport, it was a culmination of a year's worth of investigation and writing. He did a great job!

On Wednesday night David and I accompanied our son to a parents and seniors banquet at a flashy venue downtown. I've been very involved in getting this organised, so it was almost surreal to be a part of of. All went smoothly except for the amount of food. Our group is a little different to the groups that facilities in Japan usually cater for: we've got larger boys (several over six-feet) and the party was non-alcoholic. Probably we were too frugal with our budget too.

It was fun getting dressed up (and then traipsing downtown on trains).

Thursday was a blessedly quiet day then Friday the biggest event: the high school graduation itself. I thought I'd be teary, but for the most of it I was fine. It's all a bit blurry now. There were 53 graduating seniors and about 600 people came to see it happen.

This was an extra special treat. We had several OMF colleagues, aka "OMF family" come to join us in the celebration. What a joy. Living at such a distance from our birth-families you tend to develop your own networks to survive and thrive. Over the years many OMFers have helped us in many ways and they do become a bit like an adopted family. Having these colleagues with us on Friday night was a reminder that our son didn't get to this point alone, nor did we. We've had a lot of support, both in Japan and in Australia. Many people have prayed for us and our family over the years too.

Straight after graduation we had a "mini" banquet, with a spread provided by the PTA for guests. It was crazy in a crowd that large. How many times did I get congratulated? Then just an hour after that the seniors all left on a final trip. A parent-organised all-night trip to the beach to watch the sun rise, eat breakfast and return (no sleep except on the bus). They were gone for 12 hours. David volunteered as a chaperone along with three other parents. When they got back our son slept most of the day and David had two long naps. But they did get a spectacular sunrise.

There is controversy about this particular tradition for a few reasons (not least being that it is expensive and took a lot of work to organise). I can see both sides. 

Last week I tried to explain to someone who hasn't lived overseas that graduation from an international school is a little different to a usual high school. I came away disappointed that my point didn't appear to be understood. These third culture kids (TCK) have a bond that will be hard to replicate as they go to other countries and mingle with a lot of mono-cultural kids who don't really understand what it's like to grow up in a country that isn't your passport country (or for the Japanese kids in the class, to go to a school that isn't in your native language or system and become a TCK as a result). When our boys were in Australia, it wasn't so much Japan they missed, but school. They feel "at home" there.

So for me, one reason I'm in favour of the trip because it gives these graduates time to say their goodbyes by just being together. This last week has been so hectic that I don't think there really was time for that otherwise.

And finally, we also said goodbye to my parents. Mum and Dad were with us for 12 days and on Sunday headed off on an adventure of their own. They'd booked a ten-day tour taking them to some very famous places in Japan. We're so glad they were able to come and get a glimpse of our daily life and celebrate these milestones with us. It does make me feel a bit sad and even guilty that they have to go to such trouble and expense in order to simply visit us. And then the best we can offer them is "camping" in our lounge room where they had little personal space.

So now, somehow I need to get back into ordinary life again. Our two younger boys finish school on Friday and David has a few staff days after that. I guess all of that will help jolt me back into reality, that and the list of things that got put on hold while I helped hold the household together over the last fortnight.

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