Had another Japanese rite of passage last night. You know, up there with your first naked dip in the communal bath, first drunken karaoke, first time someone falls asleep on your shoulder on a train, first time you fall asleep on the train, first time you bow while talking on the telephone etc etc. This time it was the dreaded elementary school arithmetic set. Whoa baby.
Like all rites of passage the rumours had trickled down to the uninitiated and I'd heard tales of hundreds of itty bitty pieces, minute stickers, eye strain and hours sacrificed to the cause. I had nodded, looked empathetic and intoned a low "ohhhhh" but honestly I had thought it was all a bit of a beat up. I mean come on. Sticking a few name stickers on some cards and counting rods? I've sat through a speech riddled five hour Japanese wedding reception. I've been VIP at back to back kinder sports days (they're really only cute when it's your kid in the events...). A few stickers? Not going to phase me.
Or so I thought until I tried it.
For the benefit of my parents and other lucky souls who will never have to endure this nightmare an explanation: The green, pink and blue sticks? Not sherbet. Counting rods. One hundred counting rods. Each meticulously named. There's also counting tiles, counting cards, the purse full of money, various posters and sheets of paper, a paper ruler, shaped blocks etc etc. And in the yellow box with the (very smart) dog running away as fast as he can? Why they are ever-so-cute flower shaped counting tiles. Really very sweet. But you have to get a name sticker into the crescent shaped petal. That's what the tweezers are for.... Yup, tweezers to delicately lift each itty bitty sticker, manoeuvre it into the exact place (it is a perfect fit so there's no room for error) and pat it down with the end of the tweezers without it sliding away. Agghhh! (As an aside- don't you think maths looks like fun here? Seriously, I don't remember having any of this cool stuff. I think we had a class set of plain wooden counting rods and that was it.)
So yes. 2 1/2 hours, shoulder cramp, eye strain and a headache from concentrating too hard later and I am a fully initiated arithmetic set stickering mum.
And Meg is on pain of death to never, ever lose a single item in this set as I don't think I could label it again. Nooooooooo!