Friday, 19 September 2014

Vindicating My Face (Flashback Friday)

OK, my face can be kind of scary, but I've got nothing on this terrifying "training baby" doll!
The infant home we spent a couple of years visiting had a very progressive attitude toward having people through for training purposes. University social work students, prospective foster parents and all sorts of other interested parties were able to spend time there getting first hand experience of the system and of the children's needs. Some were timid and earnest, wanting to learn everything and assume nothing. Others, usually women who had experience in education or childcare, were overly confident that "all children are the same" and that exactly how they had always interacted with other children would be just fine with institutionalised kids as well. On one occasion I had a slight run in with one of the later kind of visitor.

The very first baby I held at the home was a little boy just a few months old who I shall call Napoleon, because his real name is equally grandiose and also because he was particularly tiny. While a lot of babies were in and out of care, or stayed for a month or two then left for good, no one ever came back for Napoleon. Visiting every week, I was able to develop much more of a bond with him than with kids I saw less frequently. One day, when he was about 15 months old, Napoleon was having a hard time. He was teething, he had a slight fever, and another kid had hit him over the head with a wooden block. I was giving him a cuddle but he was crying very hard. At this in-opportune time, a staff member came in with a new "observer", an older lady who took one look at the situation and announced "He's scared of you because he isn't used for foreign faces, I'll clam him down." She confidently strolled over, plucked Napoleon from my arms and spun her back to me to shield him from the terrifying sight of my big nose and lack of epicanthic fold.  "There there" she said, "you're OK now."

Actually, for a few seconds Napoleon did stop crying. I guess being unceremoniously grabbed by a complete stranger will have that effect. Before she could congratulate herself on her success, however, the "observer" copped a punch to the face (from Napoleon, not me). He punched and kicked and squirmed until she put him down, upon which he ran back to me, threw himself into my lap and buried his face in my neck.

Miss you, Napoleon. My scary face thinks of you often.
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  1. This is epic! Way to go Napoleon!
    That lady is so rude...or ignorant....or both!
    And I honestly can't understand those moms who leave their children. It's their own blood and I don't believe there are hard enough situations to dump your child :(
    Are you thinking maybe about adopting him?

    1. I have to admit, I didn't feel very sorry for the punch-ee ;) Napoleon is an epic little boy we would have loved to take home... although that applies to every single child we met there (we still often talk about the little girl in this story ). Unfortunately for, I think I can say without hubris, everyone involved, our prefecture won't place children with non-Japanese parents :(

  2. The link you posted doesn't work :( is the post still there?
    Which prefecture are you?
    And even though you can't adopt them all (naturally), you are an amazing person for giving your time and love to those children. I would love to volunteer too once my little boy is a lil older

    1. Ah, sorry, missed an ".html" from the end m(__)m Just to be extra safe here's the long form:


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