She doesn't like talking to people she doesn't know.
While I find this difficult to comprehend being that meeting new people is something I always look forward to I have to respect it and work with it.
Because I love her of course but also because K is pretty similar and is pretty strong in his opinion that not getting into a long and involved chat with every person who has the good fortune to stand next to you in line somewhere is perfectly ok. I think he even goes as far as to use the revolting word 'normal.'
So, anyway, Meg doesn't really go out of her way to talk to people.
That includes saying hello and good morning.
And that's where we hit a problem as greetings are considered really important here. Not that they aren't in Australia either but I din't think Aussies are quite such a stickler for a loud, clear child-led hellofest on the way to school each morning.
One of the safety measures around here is to encourage all the farmers and older residents to be out and about when the kids walk to school (they are anyway so that part is not much of an ask!) and for them to notice who walks past and just see that all is as should be. I like this idea and I've seen the benefits when a boy didn't come home and his mother was searching for him they managed to pinpoint how far up the hill he got before he went AWOL by which neighbours had seen him walk past. (He was fine- he'd ducked under the monkey fence to look for beatles in the forest. OK, he was physically fine but he got in a whole heap of trouble for breaking about a hundred rules regarding going under the monkey fence alone, without going home first, at dusk and when a bear warning was in force...)
Anyway, there is this whole patrol of senior citizens out and about checking on the kids. And they are of the generation that takes greetings very, very seriously. So seriously that they put in a discussion item to the PTA AGM that the kids need to be taught to do their greetings better as they either mumble, look away or don't say anything until spoken too.
The head of the neighbourhood is a particular stickler about this.
He is also our neighbour directly across the road.
And he is a bit of a gruff old thing. Booming voice and big laugh.
Needless to say Meg doesn't exactly shout out a cheery 'good morning!' when she sees him. Which I can really sympathise with.
Sympathise with but think it would be easier all around if she could say good morning...
So today we had our annual visit with Meg's old babysitter from Saitama.
Her babysitter we said goodbye to when she was 11 months old.
And who still comes and visits once a year to catch up with the kid who doesn't remember her at all.
It's all a bit comical really but she is the sweetest woman and really looks forward to coming each year so here we are 7 years later still meeting up.
Today she wanted to go to Kamikochi. It's a beautiful area but I am a little turned off by the 3,200 yen taxi ride or 1,200 yen each bus ticket you need to get there as it's a no car zone. Oh and all the masses of busses that descend spewing out tourists from the cities to tramp around the lake in 30 minutes, buy their mementoes and get out again.
But it was a nice day and being that the Autumn colours have all but finished for the season and it was grey and overcast it was the least crowded I've ever seen it. Being that we had a senior cit with a dodgy knee and two tired kids we just did the round the lake tour.
Oh and had lunch at a hotel.
And bought souvenirs.
And stopped for umpteen pictures.
You know, the usual tour fun.
When we were finally back walking again, we started passing quite a number of people who were on a bus tour walking the track in the opposite direction to us.
It was a narrow track and we would exchange greetings with each group as we passed.
We being the babysitter and I.
K is a lost cause but I decided it was time for some greetings training for the girls.
I challenged them to say 'konnichiwa' to 10 people in a row.
Then it was 20.
Then Meg wanted to see how many she could do before we got to the busstop at the other end.
And so there we had Meg and Amy skipping down the path carolling out 'konnichiwa!' every time they passed someone.
They were really chuffed at all the smiles and nods and return greetings they got. I was really chuffed at how well they were doing.
Right at the end Amy trilled out 'konnichiwa' to an older man and his wife.
After we passed them she ran up beaming and hugged me.
"He said I did that really good!"
I smiled and agreed that she was doing a great job.
The babysitter and I looked at each other and shrugged.
What could we say?
The man had actually said "Her Japanese is really good."
Oh well. It's the thought that counts, hey?