My Crazy American Father
Tobias 0700 April 16th, 2046
The faint beeping of my alarm clock wakes me from my blissful sleep. Its harsh and grating tone a shocking and startling contrast to the pleasant dream I was having. “Ugh… 5 more minutes,” I moan as I slap aimlessly at my headboard shelf, trying to hit the snooze. After five or seven increasingly powerful attempts, I finally stop the harsh beeping. Finally, I think, readjusting back to the comfy position of rest I held moments ago. Now I can get back to my dream about… about?..”Dang, it!” I sit up fully awake, realizing that it’s hopeless to try and go back to my dreams, whatever they were. I throw the covers off, turn, and slip my feet into my morning slippers before heading downstairs, the scent of fried eggs and toast already filling the house. I enter the kitchen to see my mother placing a plate at my spot at the table and my little sister Yukie already chowing down on her eggs.
"Bonjour ma chère, as-tu bien dormi” she asks in french as she sees me. Her thick African accent shining through as she speaks.
“I always sleep well,” I responded, taking my seat and folding my hands. “Thank you for this food,” I pray before eating as I know well the punishment for failing to pray before eating in the house. Mother goes back to the stove and cracks a few more eggs into the pan. They sizzle and pop as she places a few more slices of toast in the toaster.
“You didn’t stay up too late playing your video games with Sora, I hope.”
“Come on, mom, this is me we're talking about. Would I do that?”
“You slept through 3 of your alarms and nearly missed your graduation from junior high after you were up all night playing that land of fairies game not a month ago.”
“Yes, but that was a special event that started on US time, so we really didn’t have a choice.”
“Hmph. If not for your father, I’d have deleted the game from your computer, now eat and get ready. Your father will be back soon, and he intends to take you and see your opening ceremony.” Yeah, right, you’d delete the desktop shortcuts and think you’ve deleted the game, I think but don’t dare say. I dig into my eggs and allow myself to fade into the background as my sister Yukie pipes up.
“Why isn’t daddy coming to my opening ceremony?”
“Yukie dear, we’ve been over this before. I’m going to come to your ceremony, and your father will be going to Tobias’.”
“But I want both of you there; both of you were at Tobias’ when he got to my grade.”
“Well, Tobias was an only child back then, so we didn’t have any other ceremonies to go to.”
As she finishes, we all hear the front door open and close, followed by the sounds of our dog, Pearl panting and striding towards the kitchen and eagerly lapping at her water bowl. The sounds of the Shiba lab mix lapping away muffles the footsteps of my father as he walks in. His well-developed muscles are clearly visible through his jogging attire. Even though it’s still chilly, he’s already switched from his winter jogging suit to a simple shirt and gym shorts. Despite this, he’s still drenched with sweat. The smell of eggs and toast barely covering it. “Can you believe this weather? Only April, and it’s already in the 60s this early.'' I take a moment to do the mental conversion to celsius. About 16-21 C°, I think. It astounds me that even though he’s been in Japan for at least as long as I’ve been alive, he still can’t seem to think in metric units. He takes a towel hanging from a cupboard handle and wipes his face with it before hanging it neatly on the sink. Yukie stands up in her chair and reaches out for him.
“Daddy daddy uppies!” She cheers as my father reaches for her and lifts her above his head with ease before letting her down and kissing her cheek as he holds her in his arms.
“And how is my little Texas flower doing this morning? Is she ready for her first day of school?” He says in his American English. They’ve done this for as long as I can remember. To each other, they speak Japanese, but to my sister and me, my father speaks and mix of English and Japanese while my mother mixes Japanese and French. They’ve kept this system up for as long as I can remember. My father says it was a system my grandparents used when riding him and his siblings. Apparently, they both wanted their children to speak both of their native tongues of Spanish and French. Still, they knew that they needed to speak English to work within the US, so they both started out speaking English to them and moved on to other languages as time went on. My father said that it worked well, so they implemented the same system when I was born. It seems to have worked as, at only 15, I can read, write, and speak English, French, and Japanese as well as any native speaker and can also get by with decent Spanish whenever I talk to my Abuela. My mother also tried to teach me how to speak Fang, but it never seemed to stick.
“No, I want you to come to see the opening ceremony,” she pouts
“Sakura, I already told you I would if I could, but I have to go to Tobias’ ceremony.”
“But I want you to come,” she pleads.
“Tell ya what if you can’t do it without me, then you just tell mommy, and I’ll come right over as fast as I can to be there for you.”
“Really?” she says as her eyes widen.
“Mhm butt... If you be a big girl, then I’ll pick you up from school, and we can get ice cream on our way back. How does that sound?”
“Ice-cream, yay,” she cheers as she throws her arms up in celebration and leans back. My father leans forward till she’s completely upside down and her long black hair touches the floor. She giggles for a moment, and then father lifts her back upright in his arms.
“Now go get dressed. You're going to wanna look your best for your first day.”
“Ok,” she says, and with that, My father again lifts her above his head and lets her down. She turns and rushes off to her room to change, and my father takes his seat at the table just as mother places his food down.
“I wish you wouldn’t baby her so much, and I’m still not sure about her going to school. She should be learning how to be a good wife, not how to work in an office,” she says as she takes her own seat at the table. My father responds as he eats,
“Fire tulip, we’ve talked about this. I know you don’t feel it’s necessary for her to go to school, but if we want her to find a good husband, we need her to be a good woman, and in Japan, a good woman is well educated. Even if she’s the best homemaker in the country, we’ll be hard-pressed to find a suitor if she has no education. Furthermore, with an education, she’ll be able to take care of herself even if she isn’t married till her late 20s.”
“But I don’t trust that school to teach her how to be a good wife. They can’t teach her to cook and clean half as well as I can.”
“And I wouldn’t expect them to, nor would I want them to try. The school will teach her to read, write, and enough math to get by, but as far as taking care of a home, that’s for you and me to teach her.”
“But how can you be sure they’ll do that for her?”
“Honey Japan has one of the best educational systems in the world, and this school is not only the cream of the crop as far as academics go, but they’ve put an absurd amount of time and effort into making sure each child will have an education pertinent to their nation's background. Give it a month, and if you still have concerns, then we can bring them up to the teachers then, and I will stand with you 110%.” He finishes his sentence as he shovels the last bit of food into his mouth. “Now… I need to shower, so I’m not all sweaty when I take Tobias to school.” He stands and takes his dishes as well as Yukies to the sink and starts the water. He turns to look at me for the first time since he entered the kitchen. “You ready? I hope you weren’t up all night worrying?”
“No, dad, I slept fine.”
“Good, then get dressed. We don’t wanna keep Sora and Sara waiting now, do we”
“Sora will make us late before I do.”
“Ha-ha, let’s hope that doesn't happen” Father leans in and kisses mother on the cheek. “Breakfast was good as always, dear,” he says before leaving the kitchen.
“I’ve already laid out your clothes for you on the bed,” she calls after him. A faint but distinct “Thank you” can be heard as he climbs the stairs. That just leaves my mother in the kitchen and me. She looks at me and almost seems surprised to see I’m still at the table munching on my toast.
“You’re still eating? Hurry up, or else you’ll be late. Didn’t your father talk to you about what an opportunity this is?”
“Yes, he did. Said it was a great opportunity for Yukie and me.”
“You should take full advantage of it.”
“But Yukie shouldn’t?” She softens her face and looks away.
“I know I’m alone on this, but I can’t help but feel her time is better spent having me teach her. I don’t know math, as well as the school, does but there’s so much I need to teach her, like sewing, laundry, how to cook good food, shopping, and so many other things, and it’s the best time to teach her, but everyone else seems to think she’s better off spending her time in a room full of strangers learning obscure facts that won’t help her take care of a home. I know your father has more knowledge on these sorts of things, and he’s never steered this family wrong before, but I can’t help but feel like this is the time I should stand up to him like I see all the time on the western television.”
“I don’t know, mom. He does a good job taking care of everything, so I doubt this would be something he’s wrong about. But if I have a problem with the school, I’ll be sure to bring it up to you first.” She smiles
“Thank you, son. Now hurry up, or else you’ll be late” I shove my last big bite of toast in my mouth, getting a little jelly on my face as I place my dishes in the sink. As I’m leaving the kitchen, my mother stops me. “Oh, and son,” I stop in the doorway half in half out.
“I love you,” she says with a smile. I smile back
“Love you too,” and hurry out of the kitchen.