Getting Zedder ready for all those sushi lunches in Kindergarden
A good friend of mine, my best friend from back in the day, had a Kindergarden teacher for a Mom. She was a cool lady, as you can imagine, and I always loved her. She was kindness incarnate. When my friend, John, found out that June and I were married, he mentioned it to his Mom, who it turns out taught a tiny little funster named Kaede June Partridge at W.T. Laing Elementary School waaay back when. She had a fun reaction to John's news. First, she was happy that we had found one another because she adored June as a child and thought I'd done quite well for myself in finding such a sweet girl. Second, she said that she always remembered June as the first five year old she ever taught who brought sushi in her lunch box.
Isn't that hilarious? I died when I heard it.
June and Netta, just a few years before Mrs. Teeter would see sushi appear in the little girls' lunches.
When June started Kindergarden her Mom, Mihoko, had really only been in Canada a few years. Certainly not many more than June's five years. Her English was improving, thanks to a patient husband and a loving little five year old girl...Sesame Street helped, and so did the abrupt kind of socialization than any new immigrant experiences. Even as Mihoko's English improved daily she was obviously not well versed in the traditions or expectations that parenting in Canada placed on her. She raised her first daughter, Kaede June, the only way she knew how...with a mix of Japanese and Canadian ways, which meant Japanese bedtime stories and the occasional scolding, and which also meant sushi in June's lunch. So while other children packed perhaps Fruit Roll Ups or Twinkies, June sat down to lunch and unpacked an unfamiliar assortment of nori, rice, and egg. She may have even been the first Japanese-Canadian child to ever open a lunch box in Mrs. Teeter's Kindergarden class? Either way, her teachers remembered her as being a sweet and beautiful little child certainly unlike any of her classmates. I like that story, in fact, I love that story.
Zoey will grow up with a much more traditionally Canadian experience than her Mom did, but fortunately she will find some of her heritage in many of her Baachan's ways. She will play Japanese games, and she too will hear Japanese bedtime stories. She is already familiar with the inflection in the tone of a Japanese phrase and is even reminded to stop what she's doing with a sharply uttered, dame!, which translates to "bad"...She will learn the language by listening to her Baachan, and watching Japanese programs on television. She will eat whatever her Baachan puts in front of her, and just like her father, will like some of it and find other things odd. She will be spoiled by family still living in Japan, and if she's very, very lucky she'll visit Japan every few years for as long as we can manage it.
She'll also start playing with this fake sushi play set that you see in the picture above. I found it in the toy section at a local "Winners" store and figured that she might as well get started early. Mihoko's going to have her eating nori and rice before she can even say "pancake" so she might has well be familiar with it. Besides, it's fun as hell don't you think?
In a funny twist, and a testament to the kind of place that Canada is nowadays, she certainly won't be the only child in her Kindergarden class to bring something as foreign as sushi in her lunch box. Her Mom broke that barrier down thirty years ago.