She wrote: "Before coming to Japan, Tiantian (her daughter) had already gone through a year of kindergarten in Beijing, so you could say that we are no strangers to kindergarten. But there are some things in Japanese kindergartens that have stunned me."
The following are 12 of her observations:
"A schoolbag, a blanket bag, a bag for eating utensils, a box for eating utensils, a bag for clothes, a bag for for changing clothes, a bag for clothes after they have been changed out of, and a bag for shoes. Then that bag A had to be of such-and-such a length, bag B had to be of such-and-such a width, bag C had to fit in bag D, and E in bag F. I just couldn't believe it.
Some kindergartens even ask mothers to make their own bags!
After two years, we're used to it, and the kids have become very good at putting things in their right place. I often think that the reason that the people of Kyoto don't mind sorting their rubbish might be because they've been taught this kind of thing from a young age."
But for us? Maybe it is out of habit, or maybe it is because it is a cultural thing, but I carried the bags, and Tiantian carried nothing.
A couple of days later the teacher came and had a chat with me: "Tiantian's mother, Tina does everything herself at school ..." Japanese people have a habit of saying only the beginning of a sentence, and letting you work out the rest yourself.
I immediately realized that she was asking about the situation at home, but seeing me thinking it over, the teacher continued, "... carrying her schoolbag for example ..." After this tactful reminder, I let Tiantian carry her own schoolbag.
When the time came for a parents' meeting, I told everyone that in China the custom was for parents to carry everything. It was the Japanese mothers' turn to be dumbfounded. As one, they asked: "Why?"
Why? Is it because we Chinese love our children a little more?"
When Tiantian was in Chrysanthemum Class she used to be so slow changing clothes, and I couldn't help but give her a hand. But I soon noticed that all of the Japanese mothers were standing to one side, not helping at all. I slowly saw that this business of changing clothes educated the children in living independently. Through things like their experiences at school, changing, sticking their daily sticker, and hanging their handkerchiefs, these kids start from when they are two or three years old to learn the habit of keeping things orderly.
Wouldn't you know it, when we had just started kindergarten, practically every day she got sick. But when I talked to the Japanese mothers about it, their answer amazed me. "Of course! The reason we send our kids to kindergarten is to get sick."
Seeing the healthy energy of the children charging about like little rockets, greeting me, it occurred to me that we shouldn't spoil our kids too much."
These mo-mo (peaches), who haven't even reached their first birthday, have not only already started going to kindergarten, but take part in all of their major activities, like sports competitions and performances. Seeing these little mo-mo crying while crawling forward, I usually feel bad for them...