Kids–I’ll take ’em when I can

The other day was Father’s day, but I guess I have no standing as a father anymore. I occasionally e-mail my daughter in Japan, but she hasn’t responded in over a year. I have’t seen her since 1999–the last time I went to Japan–when she was 12 years old. Now she has graduated from a vocational school 専門学校, moved out of the house and is living in Tokyo with her friend, according to her mother. It would be nice to talk to her, but I get the sense that she doesn’t want to talk to me, especially ever since I remarried. She may come around, but all I can do is wait and see.

I also have three stepsons, but they were over 18 by the time I married their mother, Musubichan. As you might imagine, they consider me their mother’s husband but not their father who died in an accident when they were young. So the bottom line is that I am, for all intents and purposes, a non-dad. Kinda sad, when I think about it.


But I have grandkids–my eldest stepsons three boys. They call me grandpa and according to M, the eldest one, KT, who came for a summer two years ago, refers to me when necessary.

“KT, we’re leaving for dinner. Hurry up,” his father will say.

“But Grandpa said that I shouldn’t go out until I finish studying/cleaning my room, so wait a little.”


“Grandpa says don’t leave the light one when you leave the room.”


“Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth.”

I’m not sure if I should be used as a foil against his own father–and they must think I’m really anal–but its nice to think that I have a role to play for somebody. I should also mention that he’s Japanese but doesn’t call me ojiichan. Thank goodness for small favors. He refers to me by the English term: guranpa. This is definitely more satisfying.

Anyway, this is all neither her nor there. My daughter has her own life and I wish her well. If the day comes when she wants to get together, I will be there with open arms. In the meantime, I have my students. I am not their father, obviously, but they are my children, so to speak. I teach them, advise them, encourage them, and sometimes scold them. But most of all, I feel lucky to have them.