Teaching Children new Culture and Customs
We have been invited to stay in Sydney with one of my long-time friends. We were teenage penpals in high school – myself in Adelaide, Australia; and her in Osaka, Japan.
We arrive, and immediately we are asked to remove our shoes at the door and to go through the 1/2 net curtains that hang at each door-frame. In this case, the house is pretty entirely decked out as a Snoppy Japanese shire/museum.
We eat on the low table with cushions on the floor. As my son loves to eat in front of the TV, this is no biggie for him!
He is promptly informed not to walk on the top of the futon bed, and definitely not to use it as a trampoline! Our friend is graciously sleeping on the floor.
We hit the sack, on what feels also a bit like sleeping on a floor, as a futon has no cushioning, but surprisingly, I find it is fabulous for my back, and I wake up after a pain-free sleep.
Our host, greets us in Japanese of which she insists my son learns and speaks a few words – he doesn’t get why, but she keeps pushing – yeah! We also bow, and placed our hands under our chins and repeated a Japanese saying before eating – which we both mastered.
Next day we ask her to choose a dining place for a late “birthday lunch celebration’ for her, so she selects one of the most sought after Chinese Dumpling Houses. I thought my son was about to break down, as she informs him he cannot play his 3DS at the table – it is rude. She shows him how to use chopsticks, and orders food for all of us. All dishes are new and strange to us.
Not being a tea drinker myself, I am not surprised to see him spit out his drink, which is very ungracious. She strictly reprimands him for this.
He tries to get away with just eating rice for lunch. Yumi is persistent and asks if he can prepare him a special surprise dish, which amazingly he agrees to, eats and enjoys. It is a mix of sauces, dumpling, and other dishes. Next, she is feeding him off her chopsticks, and he is eating as she shovels in all the new foods.
She engages him to a point where I almost feel jealous. They are cooking, laughing and bonding, as she has him on his own stool, creating new Japanese foods he will eat.
Our day at Luna Park is a load of fun, and it is great having Yumi share it with us. We are all pretty worn out at the end of the day, and she buys him a “Wild Mouse” cap, to prove he has survived the roller-coaster ride. This hardly leaves his head for days!
I watch at times as he chews and chews, and he really gives it a good try – and I sit in awe of her skills that she possesses and how at the start of this trip, he has managed to overcome a great hurdle – trying new foods.
Each day has new dishes to try, and new words to learn. We are conquering “Culture and customs mountains” with fervour.