This week, my little Kaiju turned 18 months old! I had so much fun looking through her old photos, so this post is a celebration of this milestone and all the things we’ve achieved together
Keeping Her Healthy
So far, things have been relatively smooth. Little Kaiju does occasionally have severe flareups with her eczema, but other than that, she’s a very genki child. One of the most significant aspects of raising a child in Japan (the biggest reason that keeps me here, to be honest) is the healthcare. In Japan, every single one of a child’s health check, dental exam, vaccine, etc. is meticulously planned and recorded in the 母子手帳 (boshi techo | Maternal Child Health Book).
From her very first check up in the birth clinic when she was only a few day old, to the comprehensive 18 month old check up, all data is recorded in an easy-to-carry record book.
I used that book for all my prenatal exams and dental checkups, and the monster and I will continue to use it until she’s 6 years old.
On top of that, our ward in Tokyo subsidies healthcare for kids under 13 years old. She can go to the doctor’s office, emergency room, dermatologist, dentist and so on as many times as she likes. It’s all taken care of (as in taken straight out of my meager paycheck in the form of taxes!).
Japanese Culture Immersion
Speaking of work, returning to work and putting little Kaiju into daycare was a very important step in her (Japanese) language development. Originally, I planned to dive into writing full-time after my contract as a relief teacher expired in March. But, when the opportunity to teach again came up, I took it.
Even though she only went to daycare 2-3 times a week, she picked up so many Japanese culture cues. At 10 months old, she was the youngest in her class then.
And, now she’s the second youngest in the 1 year old class. Little Kaiju goes to daycare 5 days a week, and is fully immersed in all things Japan.
She even mastered ohenji (お返事), the art of replying to one’s name by raising the hand in the air and saying hai. It’s motivated me to start practicing kanji writing all over again.
English conversation schools (eikawa) across Japan offer English classes for students as young as 0 years old. Those are typically “mommy and me” classes, and I actually taught a few when I was in grad school.
On top of that, my graduate research focused on second language acquisition, but at the moment, I’m not too concerned about forcing little Kaiju to speak Japanese or English over the other.
Up until now, all her language learning was simply “input,” absorbing the words in her environment (English at home, Japanese at school). I even caved in and got a Fire Stick so we’d have a library of English language songs and videos.
Now, she’s at the “output” stage, where she can speak many English and Japanese words. I originally wrote up a list of 15-20 words that she can say, but now I can’t keep up with her growing vocabulary. She understands speech in both Japanese and English, and can respond/identify objects in either language. I’d say she currently has a vocabulary of about 30 words (that I understand).
The Countdown to Two
While she’s developing into a smart little lady, signs of the Terrible Twos, or 魔の2歳児 (ma no ni sai ji), are already cropping up. My patience is wearing thin, and I feel like the monster inside me is coming out! The work-life balance gets harder when a toddler who’s been in daycare all day craves extra attention— despite the fact that we’re together all day.
On top of that, housework seems to fall on my shoulders, adding to my stress. Sometimes, I just zone out after the monster is finally asleep. And, once I snap back to reality and start typing away, she wakes up! What an incredible talent!
Seriously though. Sometimes I have to go to the head office (located next to her classroom) during nap time, and even though she can’t see me, I promise you, she can sense my presence and starts to wake up!
As I was nursing her to sleep and looking for photos for this post, I couldn’t believe how much she grew in just 18 months. She looked like a little doll in the car seat during her car ride home from the hospital. Now, I have to struggle to get her to keep still during bus rides!
Here’s to the next 6 months — and beyond!
18 Months Old – The Countdown To 2 Begins!