"Happy Memories" Noriko Onishi
When raising a child, there are moments when I wonder if I cannot cut out these happy times and memories and preserve them. For example, a single word of my daughter’s clumsy talking, or my children playing house with each other and their adult-like conversational exchanges. There are nonchalant, everyday casual moments, which I will probably forget with time, like when I encouraged my son and witnessed him bursting into smiles after having fallen many times and then suddenly being able to ride his bicycle. If you try to lock that up in a video or cell phone, the expression will disappear. The accumulation of everyday life has no shape.
If that is the case, then I have made a plan. At the time, my children were in the 3rd and senior grades, and I gave them the following mission: Take the Kotoden to Takamatsu Chikko Station. Go to the Japanese-style sweets store right outside the station and buy Japanese chestnut buns for our grandpa. My plan was to secretly follow them and videotape them. It would be something like a TV show.
I believe we were having dinner when I asked them to run this errand. When I asked both of their eyes glistened as they exclaimed, "We can do it!" Up to that point whenever they took the Kotoden they had to have an adult with them.
Can only the two of you really make it back home? I almost fell forward because of their baseless confidence. The small adventure grew to be a big project, and every day the two carefully planned their excursion. However, what they came up with were no more than completely incomprehensible ideas.
“Hey, do you think we need a flashlight?”
“It would be bad if we got separated, so I think we need walkie-talkies.”
When would they arrive at the place to buy tickets? Giggling while listening, I looked forward to the increasingly approaching day. Hopping up and down, the two said, “see you later,” and checked the train’s return time. Seeing them off, I changed clothes at the speed of light. It would be over if my presence were to be noticed on the way. After hastily changing my hairstyle, putting on my glasses and slipping on my pant suit from long ago, I turned into someone my children couldn’t imagine. I jumped onto my bicycle in order to videotape the two walking to nearby Hayashimichi Station. During the season when the roadside trees overflow with new greenery and the smell of the wind is blue and enchanting, the two kids were leisurely walking hand in hand, carrying their canteens across their chests. Separated by 30 meters from behind, ah, I wondered what they were talking about. With a frustrated thought I turned the video camera toward the pleasant scene.
Thus the pair arrived at the station, and they took from their wallets, grasping tightly, the money needed for a child’s fare. By the time the green train was in sight, the tension from their backs was floating in the air. They sat side-by-side with their feet helplessly not touching the floor. My chest tightened up at the appearance of a very defenseless and inexperienced, tiny pair. "It’s not this one, is it?" my daughter checks after each and every passing station, and "Uh huh" my son responds nervously looking outside the window. The two timidly got off their train at the final stop, Takamatsu Chikko Station. Exiting the dome-like ticket gate, they seemed dazzled by the bright light, then clearly restless, they looked around nervously. My daughter spotted the sign “Chestnut” and shouted, “Cheeesssstnuuuuut!” her face bursting with joy as she pointed at it. They crossed the pedestrian crossing as if they were rolling over. What a proud smile my son made as he came out of the store with the chestnut filled steamed buns! When I realized I hadn’t had time to videotape them after I saw their retreating figures in the beginning.
"We found it!", "We got it!" "Grandpa is going to be so happy!"
While I was listening to the two with the back of my pantsuit turned towards them, I was overwhelmed with emotions on my way home on Kotoden. What reliable little adventurers they were!
These children will become 3rd years in high school and middle school this spring. Even now, from time to time, the two remember the errands on the Kotoden, and the scene of that time also vividly comes back to my memory as if it happened yesterday. However, there is nothing remaining for a video.
Parenting is undoubtedly made by such happy memories, I suddenly thought. I now hope that such casual memories of parent and child are nourishing my children's hearts, even if they leave Kagawa after growing up.
Togetherness with Kotoden.
The 3rd Nakazora Literary Award
"Kotoden Story Project"