Magic Words

Yesterday and today, Yuriko was in Kyoto on a study trip with her kimono course. She should be back in a few minutes, but Mayuki has decided to watch a video again while she waits, so I have a few moments to write a blog. And I haven’t written anything about Mayuki for a while, so it’s a good chance.

This overnight trip to Kyoto was the first time that Yuriko and Mayuki had spent the night apart since Mayuki was born. We were, therefore, a little apprehensive. We did tell Mayuki lots of times in advance that Yuriko was going to Kyoto with her kimono class and wouldn’t be coming back on Monday night, but at one we weren’t sure how much she understood. Yuriko left at 6:30am, and Mayuki woke up to wave her goodbye.

Monday during the day was fine, of course, as it was just like any other Monday. Mayuki understands that Yuriko goes to kimono on Mondays, and knows what a kimono is, so that was no problem. Except that she had a cold, and was running a slight temperature. In the evening, she developed a cough, which got quite bad. She didn’t want to eat any dinner at all, and was already looking tired by seven, despite having had an afternoon nap. I planned to take to her to bed, and then leave once she was asleep.

While Mayuki was happy to change into her pyjamas, she also insisted that I change into mine. Obviously, I had no plans to go out, so that was worth doing to keep her quiet. Unfortunately, it took her a long time to get to sleep. Part of this was the cough, which kept waking her up just as she looked to be dropping off. She finally fell asleep just before eight, and I went to do the washing up and such. After I’d finished that, Yuriko’s father phoned to see whether I was managing to look after Mayuki by myself, and I assured him that things were fine.

About quarter to nine, Mayuki woke up again, and it took half an hour to get her back to sleep. Again, this seemed to be largely about the cough.

It was noticeable that, up to this point, Mayuki had shown no particular desire for Yuriko to appear, so I think she may, in fact, have understood what we were telling her, and knew that Yuriko wasn’t there.

However, when she woke up in the middle of the night, I don’t think she was quite as aware of everything she had been told, because she did comment, in grammatically correct Japanese, that Yuriko wasn’t there. The first time she woke up, she stayed awake for quite a while, crying intermittently, and rolling around on the bed. Sometimes she wanted to nestle up against me, while at other times I was definitely not good enough. I tried various things to get her back to sleep, but the one that worked was the magic words.

I said “go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep” repeatedly. In a calm voice, and with a falling intonation, rather than yelling “go to sleep now!”, which would be counterproductive. She went quiet almost immediately, and soon fell asleep. The next time she woke up, the same trick worked, quite quickly. Around the fourth time, more than half asleep myself, I decided to try an experiment, and discovered that saying “rhubarb fish” was equally effective.

Don’t ask me why “rhubarb fish”. I haven’t the faintest idea. (Well, apart from the fact that it scans with “go to sleep”.)

In any case, Mayuki woke up this morning in a good mood, and, again, showed no puzzlement at Yuriko’s absence. I got her ready to go to day care, and that’s rather more difficult by myself than it is when Yuriko is here to split the work. Then I took her to daycare, for the first time. That would have gone without any problems, had she not sneaked up behind me as I was stowing the last bag  and been knocked onto her backside when I stood up. As a result, she was, in fact, crying when I left, having not wanted to stop hugging me, but I’m assured that she was happy all day.

She also, apparently, said “Daddy is coming” repeatedly during the day, which means that she understood when I told her that I would come to pick her up. And when I did arrive, she jumped up and ran to me with open arms, shouting “Daddy!”, as soon as she saw me. That was a very encouraging reaction; when we left I heard the nursery nurses telling the remaining children that Mayuki loved her Daddy. And she does, of course.

So, apart from a rather disturbed night, the days went well, and I think Mayuki understood what we told her about the changed arrangements. I’m constantly surprised by how much Mayuki does understand. We’ll have to watch what we say around her.

Posted in Our Child.

One Comment

  1. Well, it sounds like she had a wonderful time with her Daddy…. and Mummy did come back…so all is well! Give that little girl a big hug and kiss from Grandma Joy, And say “Happy Birthday from me too!!

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