We had guests yesterday which meant that Tetsu and I were cleaning and cooking from morning (and not blogging).
It is rare that Tetsu and I have friends over... for one reason may be because in Japan women have women friends, men have men friends, but there aren't too many couple and couple friends... Another reason we don't entertain as a couple is because the house is just too small to accommodate more than four or five people at a time... And the third reason is I think that Tetsu just isn't very social. He likes to come home to a quiet house and NOT have to make small talk. Oh, another reason is that I can't cook worth beans so I get in a tizz when I think I have to provide much more than cookies and coffee!
Anyway..... This time it was Tetsu who suggested we invite his co-worker to our house. Tetsu invited the co-worker a couple months ago but he never followed up. I hate this. It is just good manners that if you make the invitation you should keep the promise.
"Come on! It's not like I'm thrilled to think about cooking for these people, but please set a date since you've already made the invitation!"
Yesterday our schedules matched and the co-worker and his family came over for a few hours.
We had a wonderful time! A young man and his wife from Guatemala and their four children. Because of a recent trip to Costco (Yes! Costco has come to Japan!) lunch was Costco spaghetti and Costco grape juice and Costco coffee (and Tanya's salad and the Valentine cookies from a few days ago.) Although the children and husband were bi-lingual (Spanish and Japanese) the wife, being left all day with four children, wasn't very confident of her Japanese and I am a non-Spanish speaker, but we got along great! We all played family games and took Choco for a walk and the little girls loved the kitties.
There was one small observation that I made while listening to the mother speak to her two-year old in Spanish. I had given the little girl an orange and the child smiled shyly. The mother intervened and the Spanish conversation went as follows (I think...)
"No. You must say thank you. THANK YOU. Enunciate. You must say it clearly. TH-AN-K YOU."
The little girl politely said thank you very clearly.
"No. You LOOK into a person's eyes when you are talking to them. Eye-contact is important. Say thank you again and look at Mrs. Watanabe when you speak."
A very small thing but I remember saying this constantly to my children when they were little and my friends didn't understand why I'd struggle with them. Takumi or Leiya had said thank you. It was enough. But that's never been enough with me and I notice everyday at the kindergarten, at the crosswalk, in my own English classes that the children never make eye-contact.
At the crosswalk the principal will ask a child why she is late, or where her hat is and the child just mumbles, doesn't stop walking and never looks up once. My goodness, that's plain rude! Sometimes in my English classes I'll have to give a lesson in MANNERS rather than English.
"Look at the person! You are not just repeating... You are communicating!"
Most of the children think I am an ol' fuddy-duddy. It IS a small thing but I think it is important for communication skills and I'm afraid Japanese children haven't been trained well in those. I thought it interesting that this Guatemalan mother was stressing the point so much.