If it’s Tuesday…


ife goes on. Two classes today, and nothing special really happened. Lately, I’ve been so exhausted that I don’t even have any good topics to write about. Me, no topic… Nothing to talk about… No, wait. I do have something. (Don’t you hate bloggers to simply write as they’re thinking? How pathetic is that?)

Anyway, my stepson returned to Japan on Sunday. He had to go back because he came here on a tourist visa and it was up. Why is he here as a tourist? Well, he first came here as M’s dependent but he didn’t like it here. He said he didn’t like how open America was. When he would go somewhere in public–to school, riding a bus, shopping–he would freak out when someone would strike up a conversation with him. He could answer well enough and he is polite. But he would try to end the conversation as soon as possible because he hated talking to strangers. He likes the Japanese way in which strangers ignore each other–at least when they are not drinking.

Those of you who’ve been to Japan know that waiters at restaurants will never act friendly. They are basically robotic: Welcome. May I take you order? Here is your check. In a restaurant I have never been to, I will often as the waiter who they think is good. In the US, he or she will respond happily, giving suggestions either way. But try that in Japan. The waiter will act as if he was being interrogated and act flustered and confused. A stranger asking his opinion? Ridiculous. Unheard of. That’s why vending machines are so popular in Japan. The less contact between stangers, the better.

And this is the world my stepson prefers.

Unfortunately, he found out that a world of perfect strangers is also a world where empathy and assistance is rare as well. For two years, he lived comfortably with his brother–who is married with three kids of his own–and worked saving his money. But when his brother found himself struggling to make ends meet and ended up living with his father-in-law, my stepson suddenly had to live on his own… and found out how difficult life could be. He learned that he actually had to pay for electricity, gas and *shudder* water (he did not give any money to his brother), what a hassle it was to do housework (he always ate out), and what a chore it was to take care of himself (his sister-in-law did his laundry). So when he could no longer endure the insults of reality, he naturally cried out to the only person who would help him unconditionally. No, not me, M.

Sadly for him, he had thrown away his chance to live with us as a dependent. As a 23 year-old adult, he must now come here “on his own.” So he is applying for an F-1 student visa, the application I helped him fill out. I try to be as understanding as I can, and will be his financial guarantor while he is here going to school, paying for his tuition and his living expenses. And thanks to all of you out there, I think I will put a little more effort into the “parenting” thing.

I deal with my students all the time. They are about the same age as my stepson, and so I treat him like I treat them–as an adult. Maybe that was my problem. My expectations were too high. My students are college students, so they are already motivated to do well. Indeed, since I teach advanced Japanese, the hardest level, my students are more motivated and focused than most. So I have it kinda easy, in a way. But I can’t have the same expectations from my stepson.

So, anyway, he is in Japan and waiting for he interview. I hope he will do well and get his visa. Then he can come and go to the community college in our area. Hopefully, he will find his way, become motivated, excel in whatever field he chooses…

…and grow up.

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