The Wayang-ness of Being
Question mark situation 1Bb's ballet school told us that they were moving to Amagasaki (that's near Osaka) with like a month's notice. Fees would also be raised from July onwards. I was definitely reluctant to go all the way to Amagasaki on a weekday evening for a one hour lesson so I started looking around our home area for other schools. I saw one that seemed suitable in terms of fees and lesson timing so I wrote in for a free trial lesson. When we went to the trial lesson, it turns out that bb's previous classmate from the preschool was already learning ballet there. I felt fine with the teacher (she was stricter) so we signed up from June onwards.
I thought it would be nice to have someone familiar around but I was wrong. The intricacies of these mummy relationships still baffle me:
First lesson - since the mums were from bb's school, they asked me to join them for coffee during the waiting time while the lesson was ongoing. So we had a good chat for that one hour.
Second lesson - they wanted to shop so I said I'll join them. However, they seemed to keep hinting at the store "if you want, you can go for coffee, we'll be a while" and I was very confused if they wanted me to leave. In the end, they finished browsing, went out of the store and suddenly just said separately, "I'm going to Daimaru", " I'm going to the bank" without so much as a backward glance and I was suddenly alone. It was weird, and kinda awkward. I didn't know if I was supposed to follow either of them so I just went to 7-Eleven and got myself a drink and walked back to the school myself.
Third lesson - To avoid ambiguity, I decided to just escape the mums by saying "I have somewhere to be today, see you later!" to one of the mums and fled to a further area with benches outside starbucks to read my book.
Perhaps it's just the introvert in me. It's extremely tiring to figure out what correct behaviour is called for especially among mummy acquaintances and to wayang through each session with the appropriate small talk.
Question mark situation 2
Also - the ballet mums started discussing that the teacher told them that the class would not be doing any performances as the class were still full of beginner kids (their daughters have just started lessons in April 2017 - definitely not performance ready). I was relieved, because in JP, recitals = spending a lot of money, it could go up to USD1000 per performance, from experience with the previous ballet school. I always timed travel with the performance dates to avoid having to join. Do I want to see what my daughter can do stage? Yes, I am a little curious. Do I want pay more than USD100 to see what my daughter can do on stage? NOOOOOOOOO!!! From watching her lessons, her skills are barely there; if the recital was in class and do not cost any money, fine. Why would I want to spend a crazy sum of money watching her do minimal movements on stage just for the sake of photos and videos? (JP schools like to make parents buy DVDs of their kid's performances - another usd100) Do we look like carrot heads? The USD1000 would be much more valuable as bb's air ticket.
As I was saying, I was relieved. The other mums, on the other hand, were a little disappointed. I don't understand this obsession with recitals and ceremonies in Japan. Eg. Sports Day seems to be such a big deal, that the PIL brought it up as a reason bb should go to kindy. huh??? Is that even a reason? Not the socialising and all? The Kindy entrance ceremony 入園式 is another question mark. Why the big fuss about entering kindergarten? Did they get in based on their own merit? Is it something to be proud of? If they had taken some difficult exam and got into high school at 4 years old, I would think a entrance ceremony is a must, but not when it was all based on the parent's interview. Even bb's music lessons had a recital last year (I escaped by going to SG because they needed us to prepare certain formal attire) when most of the kids in class could barely sit still. The mum was supposed to go on stage with them. (who will take photos? and videos?)
All these wayang ceremonies. It's really reflective of the society and how everything is handled I suppose.