Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.
Ah, those ancient Chinese proverbs . . .
As a parent of two high school-age daughters, reading Masaki Watanabe’s letter to his son (CrossCurrents, page 12) certainly hit home. His kids are older but not by a huge stretch. Our youngest daughter is in grade nine, our eldest in grade eleven, with her graduation year already on the horizon. Having just turned 17, she has the big red magnetic “L” that we slap on the bumper of the car whenever we get a chance (which isn’t much these days, between her schoolwork and our work deadlines—guess I’ll be a part time chauffeur for a while longer). Both girls are pretty self-sufficient, needing only rides to piano lessons and field hockey games and some cash now and then to go to the movies with friends. Their homework assignments and social lives are shared and arranged via a seemingly endless stream of text messages.
Some days it seems as if Amy and I could vanish off the face of the earth and they would manage just fine as long as they had access to our bank accounts. They certainly are more together than some adults I know. Their self-made lunches are nutritious and cover all the food groups, which is more than I can say about mine most days. Thanks goodness for T&T Supermarket takeout is all I can say.
I’m not sure when they crossed the line from child to young adult but I do know whatever influence we had over them in terms of values has long since been set. Thankfully most days I think we did a good job, readying them to be happy, productive members of an egalitarian, pluralistic society.
Where was I . . . ? Oh yes, Masaki’s piece . . . we have tried to raise of kids with a healthy awareness of their cultural heritage and they both seem to take pride in their English/Irish/Japanese/Jewish (not necessarily in that order) roots. Two summers ago we took them to Japan for a cultural exchange with members of a multi-generational taiko group in the town of Onomichi, near Hiroshima. They loved it. While Amy and I stayed with a friend, the girls lived with a homestay family with two young boys and a third on the way (since arrived). They loved everything about the experience: the food, the people, the salespeople in the shops, the food, the trains, their surrogate brothers . . . did I mention the food?
It wasn’t long of course before the subject of the JET Program came up. Although a lot can change between now and the end of university, I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself writing a “Dear daughter . . .” letter myself one of these days. Maybe even stepping on a plane for a visit.
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but for now I will enjoy the company of our two bright, independent daughters, even if it’s only in the car on the way to field hockey practice . . .