Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day Twenty-eight - I think

I have received many notes of encouragement and comments on my posts. Thanks to all of you who are supporting my efforts in this. I want to remind those of you who are commenting anonymously. If you sign your name to an anonymous post, it's not longer anonymous because everybody can read a comment. If you would prefer to just write me privately, you can do so by emailing me at: Also, I respond to most if not all posts through the comment box. So please go back and review the comments if you want to read my reply. You can also get on facebook and "friend" me and read it there. Okay, enough housekeeping.

I really was hoping I would have a lot of time to write last night but ended up going to bed early after a long day of working on stuffing closets and filling junk drawers in anticipation of about 40 people coming to my house tonight. We are hosting an Open House for Catholic High School (the school my youngest two boys attend). No, I didn't convert to Catholicism. In Baton Rouge if you don't put your kids in a private school, it's difficult to get a decent education.

So this morning's post will be short. My husband and I were talking yesterday and he asked me about where I was in life when all this began. We've talked about this before but not to this detail. So I thought I should give him some kind of an idea about my state of mind starting in 1968. As I mentioned before, in 1968 we left Nagoya and came back to the States on furlough. Our family usually went to Mississippi because that was where my Dad's family lived. We visited Louisiana (my Mom's home) but for some reason we didn't live there. We moved to a small town in Mississippi called Yazoo City. I was going into the fifth grade. Several things happened to me that year.

First, the school enrolled me into a remedial class. Why? I guess they thought that because we came from Japan, I had no understanding or comprehension of the English language or any other subject. After several days somebody (my parents? the principal?) realized that my comprehension was much greater than they could have imagined - amazing - so they transferred me to the regular fifth grade class but not without a chastisement from the teacher. She was one of those old bitty teachers that had to get in the last word. "I better not hear about you misbehaving or slipping in that class. Otherwise, I'll have you transferred back to my class." It was like she had some ownership and was incensed that I would leave her class. Unreal. You would think she would want children to transfer out of her class.

Another event occurred the day I got new glasses. My parents took me out of school that day and when I returned I wore a pair of cat eye blue and white checkered thick coke bottle bottom glasses. I was the laughing stock of the class. I was completely humiliated. I also remember that I was desperate to be liked by the cool kids. As with most kids that age, I wanted to be cool, too. Some of the girls I hung with would take me to their secret hide out where we would look at Playboy and Playgirl magazines. One of the girl's smoked, too, I think. I don't remember much more about that year. We left Yazoo City to return to Nagoya the summer of 1969. I went back to NIS for one year and got into a little trouble there because I was trying to, again, hang with the cool kids. I remember really hurting one girl in our class by ridiculing her mother and calling her names. What a mean girl I was.

We stayed in Nagoya until 1970 when we moved to Tokyo because of my rebellious sister and other MK's and their actions that caused the dorm to shut down. (Actually - that's not true but it's fun to accuse them of such power.)

During this time, my parents were concentrating on their own stuff. Furlough is huge to them because it's not just a time of family gatherings and reunions but more working to gain support. The Southern Baptist missionaries did not have to raise their own support, however, they did have to go from church to church speaking about their experiences on the mission field, all the while dragging us "little missionaries" to each event, putting us on display for the whole world to see. So while we seemed to be in the "spot light" we were only there as props to be shown off. This wasn't the kind of attention any kid wants. Also, their minds were on their own reputation so our actions were always sifted through the filter of, "will this help our (taint my (our)) reputation as missionaries." I think this is another reason why it has taken me so long to share this story. Also, during my sixth grade year at NIS my parents were dealing with the problems in Tokyo, the dorm and my older two sisters, primarily my oldest sister. There was not much focus on me. Then when we moved to Tokyo, my Dad was angry that they had to leave their work in Nagoya.  The focus was on my oldest sister and hero struggles so I didn't get much attention then.

So three moves in three years when I was nine, ten and eleven. Three schools in three years as well. As we (my husband and me) talked about this yesterday and really dug into what humiliation and desperate need for acceptance I experienced during those years,my husband stated that, through some of his own personal stuff he has processed, one of his counselors said to him that when a child experiences difficult things during those pre-pubescent years it really sets them up for problems later. So, all you parents who have children that haven't quite made it to adolescence, listen up - talk to them, spend time with them, listen to them and most surely love them.

See you guys later on tonight.


  1. Amen to all you young parents out there! Kids are not an extention of you, they are their own people. Treat them wisely and it will be much better for everyone in the long run......

    Janet, my parents weren't Baptist, so we didn't have the furloughs where we were "on show" like you were, but still we were always the "example". When I was in the 4th grade, we were stateside, my dad being the pastor of a church in our small town in Mass. It would snow and be really cold in the winter. All the girls wore pants ~ even the teachers ~ but whenever I showed up in pants, I would be chastized in front of the class for wearing them because I was the "preacher's daughter" - I was suppose to set the example.....guess I wasn't suppose to get cold either?!?!

    I've at least been able to move on/forgive my parents for their seemingly lack of interest in me as a child....or rather their ability to only focas on "God". I so do understand your feelings of wanting to be somebody... not necessarily a BIG somebody...just to matter....just to be listened to....just to be noticed. Now as a parent of grown children myself (my daughters are 25 and 26) I realize that I was/am not perfect and have made my share of mistakes.....different than my parents, but still mistakes. We do what we believe to be the best thing ~AT THE MOMENT THAT WE DO IT ~ doesn't mean it WAS the best thing, but it's hard for me to think that choices were made knowing they were bad.

    Thank you for's helpful on so many levels......lafm

  2. This brings back memories and not good ones! When my folks moved back to the States and I was put into high school, it was the worst. I swore I would keep my child in the same school system his whole life due to my experience.

    The education overseas put me into advanced classes here in the States which then pitted me against a clique of Japanese American girls in all the same classes. Boy were they tough. I'm not picking on Japanese American but since they could speak Japanese, it was another way that they could pick on me right to my face and I didn't even know. Of course, I did not wear clothing that was popular here in the US so that further ostrasized me. Every gaffe you made unknowingly just added to their pile of reasons why you were so uncool and unworthy!

    I'd sit on the curb and eat my lunch by myself because since I had no idea there was a cafeteria and shouldn't brown-bag it.

    The list goes on and on of bad memories moving State-side.

    When those reunion notices come through, my blood pressure goes up!

  3. Please don't take my above comment as my not thinking that you haven't is obvious that you have or you couldn't be doing what you are....I was rambling about myself. Sorry if I lead you to believe that! lafm

  4. I didn't take it that way at all. I thought it was a good question and one I had planned on addressing, just later. But, you prompted me to respond earlier and that's good. You will find out that now I am not easily offended. Nor do I take comments or questions lightly. Thanks for continuing to correspond.

  5. Reading these posts reminds me that the Southern Baptist missionary kids were always the wildest; the most likely to cause trouble (be it harrassing the local shopkeepers on the road to Tamabochimae or putting coins on the train tracks); the most likely to smoke,drink, etc. It must have been really terrible to have to "set a good example" all the time. Clearly that didn't work!