The Silver Lining

Well, I wasn’t kidding with my last post.  It’s been awhile and it’ll probably be awhile yet again.  But I’ll do what I can, if only because this is something I enjoy.

Our little one stayed in the hospital a week, suddenly making rapid progress 24 hours after vomiting clear across the room with surprising force.  I doubt I’ll forget that moment or the night that followed.  Anyhow, oddly enough, she actually seems to like nurses these days.

Since then, my schedule has been full of researching hospital bill payments, city hall procedures, baby appointments, getting our daughter enrolled in a pre-preschool program, helping out and meeting with our interns, and trying to keep up with household work, financial reports, correspondence and a million other things.

One thing that has been really really cool about this whole process is that we’ve made relationships with our neighbors soooo much closer.  During April, my neighbor had her second baby via c-section, which of course I experienced in February.  Both sets of grandparents being far away, she was alone to take care of her kids most of the day (though the older goes to preschool).  Knowing how hard it was for me, I had a lot of compassion for her! When I went to visit her in the hospital, I didn’t bother asking but informed her that I planned to make her meals when she got home.  She was so surprised but grateful, wanting help but unable to ask for it.  Not uncommon here.  So, I made a few meals for her on the day she got home and then one the day that I left to take our baby to the doctor… of course ending up in the hospital that night.  Earlier that week, we had gone grocery shopping and I picked up some goodies for her– healthy things specifically for momma and snacks and dropped them off on the spur of the moment.

She answered the door and cried.

Of course, I cried too, because… well… hormones.  I’m sure it’s probably mostly that for her too, but Japanese don’t cry.  So, we had a bonding moment.

Naturally, she was looking for a way to repay me– because it’s considered obligation in Japan to return the favor.  Not wanting that, I asked for help in a different direction– making a phone call to the hospital payment center for me and later casually asking for help with preschool info.

Dingdingding.  This has been the key.  On the day she made the call, I awkwardly told her she didn’t need to use polite language with me anymore. She was SO excited and told me she was trying to figure out the right timing to “become friends”.  I’d tried making the switch informally a number of times, but she always continued using polite form language.  Inevitably, I’d go back to polite form, trying to figure out if she wanted to keep me at a distance or what.

It seems there might be a specific transition moment to make the change.  I’ll ask around, but this is the second time having this conversation with someone.  So, I might be on to sometime. Timing.

Anyway, since then we message back and forth through our shared wall frequently.  She sends incredibly long messages (for me, at least), so it takes a bit of concentration to focus on what she’s saying and then to come up with a decent response.  And not surprisingly, a few of our messages have taken place at 4am.

In the almost month since then, we’ve hung out at each others’ houses, been invited to use nicknames, gone to a local event as families, and she’s helped me out and even walked me to the preschool the first day. Next week, we’re going to a preschool event together, though I don’t think her son is going.  And apparently we’re going to do some traditional meal together to celebrate our kids’ 100th day (well, sometime in the middle).  I expect I’ll have more to say about that after it happens.

So, for all the challenge that the hospital was, it’s produced some good things out of it- the two neighbors we have connections with have grown a lot closer.  Doors have opened.  And I’ve learned more about a new section of Japanese health care and procedures and what is and is not covered (all said, it’s light years cheaper than the US).

Well, I’m off to wash bottles and then head to bed.  I expect in the near-ish future, there might be a post about pre-preschools and that whole realm for me.  Let’s just say that momma was more nervous on “our” first day than my own 3 year old was.  But we’ll get to that later.

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