First Day Frenzy

Yesterday we got an email from a fellow worker here in Japan regarding our ministry. It began like this:

“Sorry it has taken me a few days to respond… Things have been crazy this week with school starting back up for the kids and especially figuring everything out about my son’s new school as he just started first grade at the local Japanese school.”

I grinned, sighed and sent a commiserating nod across the internet wavelengths.

The evening after the entrance ceremony found me sitting among my kids’ bookbags, paperwork and uniforms sprawled across our bed. We had closed the sliding doors, effectively hiding the piles of “important things” from our neighbors who came over for a lunch celebration after our kids’ entrance ceremony.

Now it was time to deal with it.

I set all my preschooler’s items aside. I knew how to deal with hers and sort through her papers.

I tried to organize my first grader’s things into final details to finish up, needed items, things to be sent later and then took a quick flip through the folders and packets of papers. I kept referencing different papers and trying to decide what needed to be done first.

Meanwhile my preschooler was singing at the top of her lungs and my toddler stood, hanging onto the side of the bed, throwing papers with glee across our living room.

Eventually, I was able to pack the bags with needed items which were all adequately and sometimes doubly labeled.

As I labeled her gym clothes name tags with info I had just received that morning and ironed them on, I scorched the label on the shorts. I quickly called my husband who was out, asking him to run by the special store from which I had to buy specific labels. Unfortunately they were closed.

I knew my kid wouldn’t wear the clothes the next day but she still had to take them. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best until I was able to repair the damage.

After the kids went to bed (a bit later than I planned for!), I sat down with the stacks of papers and began reading, sorting and putting into my own system of comprehension and organization.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but in English, you can simply glance at something and within a split second understand it’s meaning and relative importance.

Even having lived here and spoken Japanese for years now, none of these papers completely do that for me. At least not that fast. It takes looking, processing, comprehending and deciding.

I’m rather like a computer that’s a wee bit old. You know– you click and the wheel spins and a few moments later it does what you want it to do. Or at least, you hope so.

But, at least I’m getting faster and not slower.

Anyway, this isn’t a one-time-and-you’re-done deal. Everyday needs checking and confirming, because everyday is different. For the time being until the kids get used to carrying all the text books back and forth to school each day, I have a list a different items to send with my kid each day and a list of what she will study at what time, on what day and what time she gets off school.

Well… we made it through the first day of class (a Friday, thank goodness) with only a couple tiny mistakes. I have paperwork to fill out over the weekend and then the real fun begins!

If you think of me, say a little prayer for me, eh? And for my guinea-pig daughter!

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