Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the past week, everyone has been looking forward--or, rather, upward--to the early evening sky, as tonight was supposedly the best and clearest night of the year for o-tsukimi, moon-viewing. I've been in Japan for long enough that a lot of the things a normal foreigner might blog about have already become commonplace for me; but I still love its seasonal traditions, and now I'm happy to find that even the youngest kids are encouraged to enjoy them. Having learned about it from her kindergarden teachers, R was the one who reminded me to watch for this week's full moon, and it was she who pointed out the shimmery white susuki growing in a neighbor's garden that would be used as ornamentation during this quiet little nocturnal celebration.

Mochi shaped into small, powdery moons are traditionally eaten on this night, but we were a little late arriving at the mochi shop after school, so everything was sold out. We settled for a couple of daifuku, instead. 

Unfortunately, the big, champagne-colored moon decided to start rising right in the middle of dinner and a little too close to S's bedtime. R was too excited about the daifuku to concentrate on her udon. S was getting enraged by something at dinner and then somehow managed to shove an entire spear of broccoli into his mouth, which he proceeded to gag silently on. I waited a few seconds to see if he'd figure out how to pull the thing out but like an old lady who suddenly couldn't remember which pedal was the break and which the accelerator, he seemed to keep shoving the darn stalk deeper and deeper into his mouth. I quickly pulled it out and tried to present a calm demeanor, while my poor baby's eyes watered and his face bloomed red. By the time we'd sorted ourselves out, I turned to the window and found the damn moon high up in the sky and, while yeah, it was pretty and clear, it was also rather small. Poor R had ended up sitting by herself--again--nibbling on daifuku and watching the moon alone. 

Although he was doing the back-arching "I'm tired" thing, I hefted S up in one arm and dragged a stool out onto the balcony. R pouted a bit because she wanted us to eat mochi together, but I was too full from dinner and plum out of free hands. I sat down with S, and then R asked to sit on my lap as well. With my four-year-old on one thigh and the baby on the other, I cuddled us together and squinted through the bars of my balcony at the cold, milk-white moon above. R began to giggle and when she waggled her daifuku in front of S and then snatched it away when he made a grab for it, he began to giggle as well. Finally, I allowed myself to relax and enjoy my two babies at the same time, something not usually possible. These two kids--they seem to need my full attention, both of them, all the time. S demands to be held so often that I'm actually worried about his physical development, since he spends almost zero time on the floor--"screw tummy time" is his opinion on the matter. R has really been trying hard, trying to be understanding, trying to accept my divided self. I make sure, after S is in his crib for the night, that she and I have our special time together, just the two of us. 

But this beautiful, soft evening, for just one brief moment, we all laughed together and enjoyed ourselves as a family. Of course the moment ended after about a minute, when R began complaining that S's diaper was stinky and S began arching farther and farther backward over my arm, trying to go who-knows-where. I eventually had to jostle R off my leg when she refused to budge, turned on the audio book for her, and got S ready for bed, while R played outside in the living room by herself again.