Friday, November 02, 2007

Onechan: Poet, Scientist, Myth-Maker

The day before Halloween, onechan was running down the stairs in tights and socks and slipped when she transitioned from the carpeting on them to the hardwood floor and tried to change direction too quickly. "I slid like an ice cube!" she exclaimed with a smile. It sounded to me like her first really poetic simile.

This came in the midst of a period that's started even before our return to the States in which she's been trying to get her head around the difference between U.S. time and Japan time. In the morning, she'll seek out confirmation that "It's getting dark in Japan" or "It's bedtime in Japan." At night, before she goes to sleep, she'll tell/ask me, "People are eating breakfast in Japan now?" This has lead to questions about why day and night alternate, which she's been asking often enough that we've moved from "the sun goes up and the sun goes down"-type answers to trying to get across the notion that the Earth rotates and revolves around the sun (though the latter is more relevant to discussions of her birthday, which is coming in less than two months, and why she has to wait for it to come and can't just turn four tomorrow). We've explained it and showed her shadows on various balls using lights and flashlights. But now she wants to know why the Earth spins. Partly b/c I can't really explain it (b/c I don't really know), partly b/c I'm swamped and stressed, and partly to see how she reacts, I haven't gone online with her to look it up or asked the storytime librarian at the local library for a good book on the subject for an almost-four-year-old, but I have encouraged her to come up with an explanation herself and played devil's advocate on all her attempts. She's really into it b/c she's moving from the definite "that's why" to "probably..." (her new favorite word) as her favorite way of attributing a cause to something. So she likes searching out alternate hypotheses, so to speak.

She started with the wind. "Probably the wind makes the earth spin, daddy," she told me in the car on the way back from her Fredonia hoikuen a couple of weeks ago (she seems to like to have these kinds of conversations then and there). When I tried to explain that the wind was probably an effect of the Earth spinning and get across the idea of a vacuum in space (hah!), she grew tired of that hypothesis or my questions and comments or all of the above. So she hadn't said anything about it for awhile. But last evening in the car ride home she informed me she had figured the whole thing out. "There's this big giant, a nice one. She makes the Earth spin. She's pretend." So of course I had to ask her a few questions. Name? "Suweet." What does she do? "She does homework and takes care of her little sister. She goes to school." Wait, what's imoto's name? "Saja. She's three and a half." Oh, how old is Suweet? "Three and a half, too." So they're twins? "Yeah. Saja was born in April. And Suweet was born on the same day."

Not a bad start for onechan's first myth. Suweet and Saja have joined the Powerpuff Girls, Pretty Cure, Sparkychan and Gojochan, Iki and Ika, Jayla, Kake, Trak, and Zavis, the Super-Prius, and various friends and animals in our storytelling pantheon. Which, I freely admit, doesn't inspire as much hysterical laughter as my dad's stories about adults who can't do things right (eat, stand up, walk, etc.) and alternate worlds (say, where things fall up) did from onechan and her oldest cousin, the only other girl among all 7 of them, last weekend in Hershey, PA. Or my mom's playing the TV Teacher for them. But onechan's stuck with me and the tsuma (whose stories are more about everyday life in Japan, from what I can gather, and who tends to gravitate more toward Socratic dialogues with onechan to get her to think through a moral or interpersonal issue than straight storytelling). So tell me, what questions should I ask her about Suweet and Saja?

11 comments:

bill benzon said...

What's their favorite ice cream? Do they know Sparkychan and Gojochan? What are their favorite cartoons? Do they have a mommy and a daddy? How'd they dress up for Halloween? Stuff like that.

The Constructivist said...

Cool--if we have time before this Harvest Dinner we're going to this evening I'll ask away this evening. If not, great topics for the car ride to Buffalo for Japanese school!

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The Constructivist said...

from onechan:

chocolate. yeah.

more answers later. bed time!

p.s.--their favorite food is spaghetti.

bill benzon said...

whose? onechan and imoto, or suweet and saja?

The Constructivist said...

suweet and saja. btw, their parents' names are Aja and Hide (genders unknown).

bill benzon said...

maybe they switch back and forth as the occasion necessitates?

captcha:qjieur

sounds like a demigod(ess) of some sort

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flacius1551 said...

No one knows *why* the earth spins.

The Constructivist said...

Glad to hear it--the tsuma launched into some explanation, but it sounded just as mythical to me as onechan's!

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