Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Our Japanese Invasion - and how we survived it

"Grannie, get out of this house, Grandad, get out of that chair, it's my house, my chair!"
Three year old Millie is going through a possessive phase at the moment and thinks everything belongs to her! Only six months ago Harry and I were living in our fairly large town house by ourselves. Pensioners, apart from my two part time jobs, living a quiet life, only pleasing ourselves, with nothing to hurry for, or worry about, in our lives (quite boring really!) - apart from the RAT, that is, but that's another story!
In August we suffered an invasion from the Orient! My son Sam and his Japanese wife Kaiko, five year old Amber and of course Millie, came to live with us. Coming from a bilingual family Amber and Millie could understand English well enough but as they had never lived here before they only spoke Japanese which made talking to them extremely frustrating as they could understand me but not I them! They soon learned not to speak to me in Japanese!
Deciding to 'up sticks' and build a life over here, they came almost like refugees with most of their possessions crammed into just two suitcases.
Amber settled into school very well and both children started speaking English at an incredible rate.
I would like to be able to write "and we all lived happily ever after" but this is no fairy tale. We are a real family with real people, each with individual needs and habits. At first, we all thought it was like a wonderful holiday but after a month or so, Harry and I felt shellshocked and felt a little bit like it wasn't our home anymore. We all felt claustrophobic, except for Amber and Millie who loved all the extra space they had in a large English house after living in fairly cramped conditions in Japan where space is a premium. Harry and I are really pleased to have the family with us and adore the children. Following some initial heated differences of opinion we have settled into a pretty good style of communal living and maybe after six months we are now much more tolerant of each other. We have grown used to waiting for the bathroom, finding a slot to do the cooking in our kitchen and sharing the car. Occasional nights when the children are wakeful means we are all wakeful, and crotchety the next day. Did we really mange to survive sleepless nights when our children were young? Suddenly we felt our age.
When I think about it, I feel we have really achieved something and I am very pleased with the last six months. There is no way Harry or I could have survived that long with our in-laws, not even for a fraction of that time, without a murder or two taking place!
We might need to get along well for another six months, but hopefully Sam will get the job he wants, buy the house around the corner and that will be the ideal condition for all of us. Until then we are quite enjoying our situation.

1 comment:

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Good luck with your extended family Maggie! I will read on to find out more...