Tuesday, September 27, 2011


image: topnews.ae

I was on my way back from Bali the other day. As I was lining up at the immigration centre along with other foreigners (yes I'm still lining up at the queue with the "foreigner" sign board above it) *insert self pitying rant about how PR process is taking way too long*, I noticed that a japanese family of four was lining up right behind me.

I spent my childhood in Japan, and it really has been a while since the last time I'd been in contact with anything Japanese-other than the food of course- so, I was so happy to hear actual live japanese conversation going on behind me. So happy indeed that I started eavesdropping. :p. I wasn't brave enough to start a conversation with them though, since I was rather insecure about my level of Japanese now that I have stopped using it regularly for about 10 years, so I just stood there and savoured every Japanese words spoken by them.

Now the thing you must know about the Japanese is that their moral, discipline, and considerations towards others is really high. I was really lucky to have been able to spend even the shortest amount of time there when I was little, I would at least like to think that I have absorbed some of those positive traits from the Japanese.

That kind of teaching, I believe starts as early as kindergarten. Young children are taught of the importance of being helpful and considerate of others. But, I'm not very familiar with that territory, since I moved to Japan when I was in primary school. So, I will tell you how the discipline was in my school.

Say Hi to my old school, Kunimi Elementary School Y'all! :D

First of all, everything was self catered. The students worked as the lunch lady, distributing the food to the class (since we take our lunch in our classroom), and it was done so systematically that each and every student in that class will get their fair share of turn as the lunch serving group. The same goes with cleaning the school compound. There was NO janitor, or the cleaning lady. We sweep, mop, dust, brush, clean, wash, replace everything ourselves (yes, even the toilet). I remember seeing a chart in my class room which determines who does what for the rest of the month, and being really impressed by it. I tried implementing the same concept in my Malaysian secondary school for duty roster, and yep, you guessed it. It didn't work.

That's me all hygienically-dressed-up as the lunch lady for the day!

And then, you can completely rely on public transportation schedules. It is NEVER late. and when they're early - yes, that happens in Japan - they actually wait for the passengers. and then you'll never see an elderly, or a pregnant lady, or the disabled standing up in a public transportation. Isn't that great??? There are soooo many other good quality, but the list will never end. NIPPON SAIKOOOO! :D

So back to the family of four story. The family consisted of a mother, a father, and 2 small kids. One boy, and one girl. The girl was about 9/10 years old I think, and the little boy was around 5/6.

I had a good pair of ear, so it was extremely easy for me to eavesdrop on them. I heard the little boy complaining about a stomach ache all through the line. The father comforted the boy but not in a mushy kind of way, you know how some adults talk to a kid like they're just a baby? No it was none of that. The father spoke to his son like an equal. So instead of "Awww, baby, it's ok. Daddy is here. Here let me kiss your tum tum, to make the pain go bye bye" he said "Oh does your stomach still hurts? It's ok. Just bear (Japanese is really big with the word "gaman") with it a little bit longer. We'll go through this together".

I was really amazed at the way the father diffused his little boy's complaints. Of course the little boy keeps repeating his complaint, but who wouldn't? I'm a completely grown woman, and I will complain and nag and whine, and probably curse at my boyfriend, if I had a stomach ache in the middle of a really long line. I was very impressed at how controlled his complaints were.

But then, something that left me with an even greater impression, happened after that.

The little boy was playing with this thing

I don't know what it's called, but I googled queue ropes, and this came out, so maybe that's what it's called.

So the boy was playing with the rope and that steel pole swinging it back and forth, and at one point it almost fell down.

If it were me, I would've reprimanded my kid saying
"Stop that, somebody will scold you for doing that"

But the father did not say that.What he said was:

"良いの? それ倒れたら,皆に迷惑をかけるよ?"
"Are you sure you want to do that? If those collapse, you will trouble everyone"

So, instead of telling the kid that they should be afraid of being scolded, he lets the kid think for himself, whether playing with the rope is right or wrong, by telling the kid what will happen if it collapses while also teaching him to be more considerate of others.

I was really impressed. I guess it is the same as teaching your kid the importance of "please" and "thank you", and being helpful and kind to those weaker than you, and letting someone out of the lift/public transportation first, before getting on, not cutting queues, crossing on the zebra cross, and being punctual among so many other things.

I guess that kind of things should be taught as early as possible as a foundation for them to grow up as a person.

I think that's what I'll teach them before abc.

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