All By Myself

I’m all alone at the moment. Yuriko and Mayuki have gone off to Nagoya for a week or so, so that Mayuki can spend some time with her grandparents (and vice versa). Yuriko is hoping to take advantage of baby-sitting services to get a few things done, as well. So I get left all on my lonesome.

Of course, this isn’t all bad, by any means. I slept all last night without being kicked in the head once, for example, something I’ve not managed for quite a while. I’m not interrupted while I’m working by complaining shouts from the next room. All the getting up things take one hour rather than two, because I don’t have to get a baby up as well. I’m sure that I’ll enjoy the break in a lot of ways.

I’m also sure that by the end, I’ll really be looking forward to them getting back.

Mayuki’s Modelling Debut

Mayuki’s debut work as a model has now been released. Unfortunately for most readers of this blog, it’s only available in Japan, and even here it can’t be purchased. However, you can see some of the pictures from the shoots for it; Yuriko’s friend Sonoe took them, and there are some pictures on her blog.

As you can probably tell from the top picture on the blog, the photos were to advertise a camera. The camera is a single lens reflex camera aimed at ordinary mothers, and as part of the campaign Pentax decided to create a sample album, with baby pictures in, to display next to the camera in shops, showing off what it can do. They asked Sonoe to take the photographs, and, having seen the earlier photos on Sonoe’s blog, asked Mayuki to be the model.

We had to think about it a bit before agreeing, but since Sonoe is a friend of Yuriko’s, and had photographed Mayuki before, and Pentax is hardly an obscure, dubious company, we did decide to do it. In the end, it took several days, with several hours per day, to gather the necessary photographs, and we had to make sure that we didn’t push her too hard. Usually, this was easy to tell; once she stopped being cheerful and smiley-faced, it was time for a bit of a break. Of course, while she was being cheerful, smiley-faced, and banging a spoon hard on the restaurant’s plates, it was us who felt like we needed a break. (She objected quite strongly when we took the spoon away, and tried to find a new instrument…)

Pentax paid for some new clothes for Mayuki for the shoot, nice ones, and for the various meals involved, but the main benefit we get is copies of the publicity album, and the original digital photographs. Lots and lots of photographs of Mayuki, free! OK, so that wouldn’t make for a very professional relationship, but then Mayuki isn’t a professional model…

Sudden Walking

Yesterday evening, Mayuki suddenly decided to go walking around our living room all by herself. It’s really a bit mystifying. One moment she was playing with Yuriko, just as normal, and the next she was walking from Yuriko to me and back again, visiting other places as they took her fancy. She’s been able to walk by herself for a couple of weeks now, but she’s not been doing it very much, nor has she really been doing it spontaneously. So last night was a bit of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one.

One possible explanation is that we went to a Mums and Tots group in the morning. When I say “we”, I mean Mayuki and I. Yuriko was in the same building, and introduced me to the other members of the group (Yuriko has been going for some time), but she wanted to attend a class on how to raise healthy, happy children. In addition, when her new kimono classes start she won’t be able to go, so I’ll be taking over from next month. Thus, yesterday was a chance for me to get to know the other people involved a bit.

Anyway, there were two other babies of almost exactly Mayuki’s age at the group, and both of them were walking around by themselves quite happily. Mayuki may have seen what they were up to, as she walked around holding my hand, and decided that she wanted to imitate them. Whatever the reason, we’re happy.

Feminism Causes Cancer

… was not actually the headline of an article in the current Guardian Weekly, but it was pretty much what it said. Apparently, if women do not get pregnant young and then basically stay pregnant, it greatly increases their risk of breast cancer.

What this proves is that “X causes cancer” does not guarantee that X is bad. You have to look at all the benefits of X, and at who gets the benefits and who gets the cancer. In this case, feminism benefits women, and women get the cancer, so it’s entirely reasonable for women to decide that the trade-off is a reasonable one. Indeed, in this case women can actually choose to make the choice on an individual basis. A woman can choose to have lots of children and reduce her risk of breast cancer; the existence of feminism is no threat to her.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need to do anything about it. Minimising breast cancer is still a very worthwhile goal. Breast cancer is still bad, even if it isn’t bad enough to make feminism as a whole a bad thing.

I doubt that there has ever been a culture where public debate has been as sophisticated as it needs to be, but it would be nice if public debate could acknowledge that something can be good despite having negative features, and bad despite having one or two good points. In many cases, this really does seem to be difficult for everyone to manage.

Busy Lives

I’ve not had time to get the diary caught up yet, even though there’s only one entry to go, because I’ve had to do lots of work. Yuriko has been busy as well.

On Tuesday she went to the Taira Children’s Culture Centre for a talk on food for babies from one to two, which was very useful, particularly in convincing her that she didn’t need to panic about Mayuki. Yesterday, she went to the Sugao Child Raising Support Centre for a talk on picture books. She says they were very good, although most of them were for children aged two and a half and up. It is certainly true that Mayuki doesn’t seem to fully appreciate books yet, much as she enjoys looking through them. There is, apparently, a library of such books in the Sugao Children’s Culture Centre.

All of these centres are funded by Kawasaki City, and thus free to use. There is a serious shortage of nursery places in Kawasaki, due in large part, I suspect, to the relatively high number of both children and working parents, but the rest of the child support system seems to be in very good shape.

Today, Yuriko took Mayuki to Ikea, along with Mayuki’s half-English friend and her mother. I’ve not heard the full account of what they did yet, because Yuriko is currently making dinner in the hope that I can eat before I have to teach at half past seven. It’s getting a bit tight…

A Proper Father

I am now a proper father. Mayuki threw up all over me today.

I had a bit of a lie in this morning, and after I got up and we had breakfast, I gave Mayuki a bottle of milk while we sat on the sofa. She drank it all down at once, and then got down, standing between my legs. She looked a bit uncomfortable, so I asked her whether anything was wrong.

At that point she was sick on me.

After being sick, she started crying, so I called Yuriko. Mayuki had managed to avoid getting any vomit on herself, landing it all on me, so I didn’t want to give her a hug while Yuriko was going to arrive any moment. Fortunately, Mayuki stopped crying soon after Yuriko arrived, and we were able to mop up enough of the liquid vomit that I could get up and go to the bathroom to undress into a bucket.

I’d been wondering, after I finished feeding Mayuki, whether to have a shower. Obviously, that decision was made for me.

In the end, Mayuki seemed to be back to her normal self by the time we’d finished, so I gave her a shower as well, and then we went out for a little walk to the shops. Mayuki actually walked quite a bit of the way, although I had to carry her quite a lot as well. Lots of people said she was cute, and she was just as she always is, so we don’t think there’s anything wrong with her; she probably just drank too much too quickly.