Friday, May 26, 2006

Crybabies?

Last night, while I was putting my son to sleep, he said something interesting. I should mention, by the way, that he is 8 years old, and had been used to sleeping with his parents in Japan. We needed to put a stop to that when we came here (much to my relief), but I still have to lay next to his bed until he is asleep.
Anyway, he said 'papa, English boys are really weak.'
'What do you mean?' I asked.
'They are just weak?'
'How are they weak? What do they do that is weak?' I asked.
'They cry at anything,' he said.
The fact that my son who demanded to be put to bed still at 8 years old was calling English boys weak for crying in no way seemed ironic to him.
Japanese children in general are called crybabies, even by their parents, if they cry about silly things. Actually, the Japanese word is 'cry bug' or 'naki mushi', and is pretty negative. W, his friend, though, seems to have no problem or stigma in shedding tears, which is what prompted my son to mention his thoughts. I told him that just because someone cried, it didn't make them weak, but he has 8 years of socialisation to overcome, and I don't think this swayed him. Children are wonderful mirrors of the things that are taught without even thinking about it. Japanese assumptions of correctness are so absolute, that they rarely think about them. While I was there, neither did I, very much. Hearing my son talk this way, I wish I had...

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