Saturday night....and I spent a quiet dinner...with....Okaasan!
And it all went well.
Maybe I am more relaxed after the holidays and time in England - but when Yujiro called at 5 pm to say he wouldn't be getting back tonight because the roads were awful - he'd be staying at the ski school lodge instead.
It didn't throw me into panic me at all.
Coldest day of the year - something like Minus 5 all day, with added wind chill - and of course Okaasan had gone off for a walk.
After I got back from work I cleared the front step of snow and ice, finished off class prepping for Monday...welcome Okaasan home at 6.30 pm and at 7 pm sat her down with me in the kitchen for oyster fry, soup, rice, salad and ...chat.
It all went ok actually...somehow I steered her gently round a few rounds of:
* oysters she'd eaten in the past
* oysters in England at expensive
* fish she ate when she was a child
* Kawagoe didn't have fresh fish, her father bought it back from business trips
* Hula dancing and sports centers and showers
* hula dancing in the Sapporo Snow Festival
* my old student who sang with the Yubari old school choir at the snow festival
* Yubari and other mining towns that died slowly
* Otaru and Isihara Yujiro
* how she named her youngest son Yujiro
* how her husband wanted to call the baby Makoto
* she once went to a cooking school near Ishihara's Tokyo house....
They are all stories I've heard so many times before...and tonight I heard most of them 3-6 times again...but...
You know what? I think I am actually BETTER at getting Okaasan to chat happily about stuff than Yujiro! I did all of this in my pretty ropey Japanese (which is even ropier after a week in England), but all those years of being an English teacher mean I can guide someone's conversation smoothly...and I think I DID PRETTY WELL TONIGHT!
Yujiro - being a male - talks about stuff that he wants to.....and Okaasan often only gives responses.
With me she can talk and talk, cos I just sit there steering a bit and trying to catch the meaning of it all.
At 8 pm I started clearing a few things from the table and then told her I had to make a phone call to the family in England...and bolted upstairs to have my evening at home (Trainspotting movie....Euan McGregor was SO SO thin!)....
Maybe 2010 will finally be the time I really get on top of this Oyomesan job.