Monday 27 January 2003

Too many babies?

I couldn’t help but think of Dorothea (“Oh, for Mung’s sake, there’s a <censored> baby in my office”) Salo when I called Ayame, one of Natsuko’s nieces, in Japan yesterday morning. No sooner had I offered my congratulations on the arrival of her new baby girl than Ayame informed me that her younger sister’s baby had been born the night before. That’s two new babies in just over a fortnight! Perhaps I should explain…

Natsuko’s sister, Emiko, has three daughters. The eldest, Nami, has a five year old boy and a four year old girl. The middle daughter, Ayame, has a boy (eighteen months) and a new baby girl, born a couple of weeks ago. Her younger sister, Mika, has a girl (also eighteen months) and now a boy, born on Saturday night.

If that’s not enough to send Dorothea into a tailspin, Nami and Ayame and their four children, plus Mika’s little girl are all staying at their mother’s house—Mika and the new baby boy are expected there as soon as she leaves the maternity ward. It’s not uncommon for Japanese women to go back to their mother’s house for a couple of weeks after their baby is born. And, since Nami is very fond of her younger sisters, she’s come along to make up the numbers, so to speak. If I had a copy of Visio, I could lay it all out in an org chart.

Where are all the husbands? With the exception of Emiko’s husband, who works a couple of hours away in Tokyo and lives there during the week, they’re all at their respective houses enjoying a moment’s peace, I imagine. How big is Emiko’s house? Not big at all. It’s a typical Japanese house with the living room, kitchen, and bathroom downstairs and three smallish bedrooms upstairs. Where will they all sleep? At a guess, Emiko will probably sleep in the smallest bedroom, Nami with her two children in another bedroom, and Ayame and Mika and their four in the largest bedroom.

Or they might all pile in together. Whenever I’ve been away with them—to a hot spring inn, for example—we’ve always shared one large room, with fourteen or fifteen futons spread out over the floor. This communal sleeping experience came as something of a shock to someone who likes his privacy but I rapidly became accustomed to it. It’s actually very pleasant to go for a bath and come back to find the evening meal laid out on low tables then to head off for a walk after dinner and return to find the futons laid neatly out in rows.

So it’s not the sleeping arrangements that pose any difficulty. The really pressing question is: How will the washing machine hold up under the strain?

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"The really pressing question is: How will the washing machine hold up under the strain?"

You turn the clothes inside out and wear them for another round?

Trick question... : )

Posted by Kris on 28 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour