Yesterday a couple of my friends and I met for a gabfest and we progressed from restaurant to department store cafe. Three hours of gabbing! We have been friends for 20 years and our conversations have ranged from raising babies (20 years ago) to taking care of ailing parents (these days).
As we drove away from the department store to take one friend to the train station, one of us piped up:
"I really felt my age while we were in the cafe. Did you see the young mother with her toddler sitting next to us?"
"I did! I did! I noticed the same thing and thought that things have sure changed over the years."
A young mother had come into the cafe after us and took her toddler out of the stroller and handed the child a rice ball. While the child ate her rice ball, the mother ordered a bottle of beer and a pizza and spent a quiet hour sipping Heineken beer and playing with her child.
I had thought too that when I was raising children I doubt if any Japanese mother would have had the nerve to order a beer even in a classy cafe. I was even hiding my consumption of a whole chocolate bar!
"Well, maybe a beer in the afternoon helps a mother deal with child-raising blues..."
"I was more concerned about whether the mother planned to drive home after her beer and shopping." (Japanese are usually very careful about drinking and no-driving laws.)
We dropped our one friend off at the station and headed back past the department store.
"AH!! LOOK!! There's that mother! She looks pretty flushed in the face after her beer."
The young mother did look pretty relaxed as she pushed the toddler's stroller down the sidewalk towards town.
"Well, that answers the question about whether she was going to drive home or not."