Saturday, 18 January 2014

Me as Okaasan

Hi - sorry. Long week. Xmas holidays are over and it is back to work on a full schedule.

Me as Okaasan. Me as a mother. To Okaasan......

Wednesday was hair salon day.
I took Okaasan downtown to have a cut and perm.
All went well, she looked great afterwards and felt happy.

But, you know....these trips are feeling increasingly like me and my child. I don't have kids and this role is new to me. All the pre-thinking, planning and double-checking. How do mums DO it all every single day, with multiple offspring?

Hair appointment was for 11 am.

So that meant a 10.30 am departure in the car.

And that meant: should Okaasan eat something at home before we left? 
She doesn't usually eat breakfast, but a cut and perm starting at 11 am was likely to go on until after 1 pm....

At 9.30 am (after my own breakfast and shower and dressing) I was offering Okaasan a little bit of food. She didn't think it was necessary.
Fine. So countdown to departure. 9.45 am. 10 am reminder, 10.15 10.25 am Okaasan was STILL in her pajamas in front of the TV!

What IS this complete disconnect from time? She appeared to know we were going downtown for hair salon. The "10.30 am" time was repeated constantly..but still she made no move to get ready. Day care is the same, she is usually getting up and getting dressed right up against the time of the activity. It's getting worse - I am sure.

Is it actually not remembering what I'm saying? Or is it losing the ability for time management? If I am leaving the house at 10.30 am I should get up and wash my face and get dressed...and  those things will take time...

SO frustrating. My stress levels rocketed. I should have gone into her room at 10 am and started picking up clothing for her and offering her sweaters etc.

Anyway. Drive downtown and deliver Okaasan to the salon. Via: "Do you need toilet before the salon?" checks.  Lots of young male stylists on duty: so Okaasan looked happy :-)

I actually went out and bought her a rice ball and took it back to the salon in case she DID get hungry while it was all happening. Left my cell number with the salon.

Off to escape for a few hours of stuff to do downtown.

1.20 pm the salon called, and I go back - move the car near the salon doors, wait for Okaasan, go upstairs and get her, pay for her etc and get her back downstairs and into the car...and quickly drive away from downtown before she can suggest eating anything in a coffee shop etc.
Get her home and then prepare lunch for her and get her sitting down to eat it etc.

Rush off to work at 2.30 pm.
All duty done.

It doesn't sound hard. Just take someone by car to a hair salon. It isn't hard. But....arranging it all and making it run smoothly takes effort.
Gone are the days when Okaasan would look in the mirror and think "Hmm, very straggly, need haircut" and then book an appointment, go to the salon on time, have the perm and cut and come home and make lunch for herself. Gone are those days.

Dear Son came home for 1 night this week between ski jobs and is gone again. I did all the rest of stuff I usually do. MUCH easier this winter with the car. I can go shopping and get heater oil and cat food cans between classes.
Okaasan chatty at dinner times with me. Had a slightly disconcerting time slip conversation about how to cook the New Year rice cake decoration...."We should display this until January 7th, when is New Year? It isn't yet, is it?" - before I dragged her back to January 17th. Funny - she laughs about her mistake, but doesn't seem particularly shocked that it isn't the date she thought.

Day care good. Requests for non-smelly clothing etc. Spare trousers to change Okaasan after toilet accidents at the center.

**** EXCITING News! Nothing to do with Okaasan and me.
The stuff I had to do downtown on hair salon day?
Reserve rooms at a community center for April screenings of the documentary film "Hafu". It's about the growing mixed-race  community in Japan, people born between two (or three) countries/cultures.
I've been a supporter of this project for a while, even when it was in planning stage. Now the film is finished and getting showings around the world at community and film festival screenings. There were two screenings in Sapporo at a university and a school. 
Now I am trying to arrange a more public screening downtown, near the main station.
Reserved rooms for April 26 and 27th! Exciting! I wasn't quite brave enough to book the big hall for 90 people, But I went for a medium sized room for 70...but more likely 50 plus if we move the tables and chairs.
So: two screenings for 50 plus people. I've put in the application for the screening kit to the film distributor etc and am starting to make the contacts locally to get the word out.
Very happy and excited about it.
Here is the trailer for the film. If you are interested in organising a screening please check out the website for details. It's a great little documentary about Japan and its future citizens.
I'm guessing that as you are reading a blog about people in Japan you might have an interest :-)


  1. If she's anything like my kids then saying the actual time you are leaving is pointless - and saying in ten minutes, in five minutes is better yet - not as effective as setting the timer for like 5 minutes and saying when that goes off you need to stop what you are doing and get up. Could work with okaasan - or she might forget the timer is on and then wonder what the beeping is :) Good luck.

  2. Yes - I wondered about a beeper. And a friend suggested a note - writing it down and putting it in front of her. We try that for important information (if we are away for 2 days and day center people are coming etc) - but I wonder really if she would focus on the note and respond...or just go back to staring at the TV. I think really I just have to go in and start choosing clothes fort her to wear and offering them to her - disturb the space completely and get her activated.