Dear Babel, by Papa

Dear Babel,

Happy 3rd birthday our talkative boy! Everyday we witness your vocabulary exploding in all the three languages, and we just enjoy basic conversations with you. Since your second and a half birthday, we have done a lot of things. I remember we were all so excited to visit Japan during Christmas and Oshougatsu. We did go there, and had a great time again! You got your first-ever Otoshidama, and ate a bunch of Oshougatsu food including Ozouni and mochi (rice-cake). You loved shrimp mochi the most, which we later found out unsurprising; your love for shrimp is significant :).

Right after your 2.5 year birthday, we had some fun for Halloween. We carved pumpkins into Anpanman, Baikinman, and Shokupanman. Though you were scared to touch the inside of the pumpkins, you helped us carving them. You also went to Intu with your friends dressed up as Spiderman. We visited shops there to do the ‘trick-or-treat’. It was really fun, and we got a lot of candies! That day, people noticed you/Spiderman, and talked to you. I remember at the Distillery, filming for SweetStatistics, and some of the customers there talked to you ‘Hey Spiderman!’.

On the day of Halloween, we went out in the evening to see the hard-core Halloween, just few blocks away from our house. You were excited because we all dressed up; you were a Spiderman again, and Papa and Mama put a cape on. In the beginning, you were okay, but as we went further, you started to be seriously scared. After all, you just wanted to be held by us, and put your face in our arms so that you didn’t have to see anything. Because your friends were there too, we tried a little bit, walking around to see if you would show any interest (as you are always interested in something new), but nothing interested you, which was indeed interesting to us: Babel with no curiosity, how is that possible! But it was understandable, as adults with real makeup were indeed scary, in fact that’s the purpose of their dressing. So your reaction was sane in that sense. We decided to leave the site, and came back home. On way to home, you just put your face down, not seeing anything. Arrived home, you looked so relieved and happy. What was funny was that after that, your curiosity and likes towards Halloween increased. You often asked us to play Halloween songs and clips on YouTube, and danced and sung along. Maybe you are preparing for the next year? We will see. I think we still have a good amount of time.

We went to see fireworks for the Guy Fawkes Night at a cricket field. This time, Oma Lia and Liselotte were here with us, so we all went there. It was cold, but no matter to you, because you just ran around in this big grass field. You love running around (and screaming while running around), which I believe is a very good thing to do for your mental and physical health :) In the field, they played a lot of songs, so we danced together a lot, with your leadership! The fireworks were beautiful, and you enjoyed them on Mama’s shoulders. You pointed out the fireworks, and said some words describing what you saw, like colors and shapes. After the fireworks, we had fries without mayonnaise. You were not happy about non-mayonnaised fries, and Oma Lia even more. We filmed this for SweetStatistics, and Oma said a couple of times ‘No mayonnaise!’ in the clip. There were still lights and music on, so we were running and dancing till the end.

In December, we celebrated Sinterklaas and my birthday! We all had chocolate shaped into an alphabet of our initials, and you had Sint-Nicolaas and Zwarte Piet chocolate too. You also got Jumping Clay homekit, and an easel. You like crafts, which probably came from Mama, so often you and Mama do some crafty stuff; drawing, playdough, cutting and pasting. It is great that you can express yourself in those ways! For my birthday, We went to bowling, and had great dinner at Ebi Sushi. It was your first time to bowl, and you did well. Using the special aid, we called a bazooka, you got strikes! You like and are good at playing with balls, which probably came from me!

Speaking of playing with balls, you have started to touch your chinchin, and what’s funny is that you smell your fingers after that. I believe it was in these 6 months that we started to play ‘Cha cha manbo’, which became popular in Japan a while ago, but we still enjoy it, getting in touch with our manhood :) Another thing memorable on my birthday was that we left our bag at Ebi Sushi, and I noticed they called me several times, when we almost arrived at the bus stop. I called them back, and they told me about the bag. I walked back to Ebi Sushi, and so kindly, they gave us 3 large salmon onigiris! I was so touched. Next day, though huge, you ate your onigiri so easily. I love seeing you eat onigiris; big open mouth, rice everywhere, and you just keep going, one bite and another.

On Christmas, we flew to Japan. Because there was no train going on Christmas, we went to an airport hotel on the 24th. It was really interesting to do this, because it was so unusual. We ran a lot outside the hotel, and inside the airport. You wanted to lie down in the airport, so we tried to let you do it as much as we could. We flew to Amsterdam, and spent about 5 hours playing in the airport playground where there was an airplane with slides. Having got up at 3am, we both were tired, but you enjoyed this. Then we flew to Osaka, after an 11-hour flight. A lack of sleep, long flight, and taking care of you, we both were so tired, but we did it! It was a big relief to us. As soon as we exited the Kansai airport’s arrival door, Oma ran towards you, hugged you, and put her cheek next to yours. You were very happy to see her. I had never seen Oma run that fast! Next moment, Opa also saw you, and held you. They were incredibly happy to see and touch you. I know how they feel.

This trip was full of fun, and there were several moments that were even more special: the first one being Oma and Opa’s super happy faces to see you at the airport. On that day, we made a trip to Shirahama, which was not really easy for you: you were crying hard in the car. We dropped by a big shopping mall in South Osaka, because this mall had the Thomas Station. You were not in a good mood, and we had stop for a while at a Seven-Eleven. Finally we arrived at the mall, and we took you to the Thomas Station. You were too tired from crying to stay awake, feeling drowsy. Opa took you from the cart, and let you stand in the Thomas Station. It was an instant surge of energy from 0 to 100! You moved your arms and legs so fast, expressing your excitement! We couldn’t film this, but how happy you became made our days. At the hotel, you still had difficult times. So next time we go to Japan, we will definitely take it easy in the first couple of days.

You got your first Otoshidama. Of course you didn’t know what those envelopes meant nor what were inside of those, but I was happy to see you experiencing a Japanese tradition. In Japan, I enjoyed the food the most, as expected, and you also enjoyed it so much: onigiri, choux cream, karappa etc. When we spent time with Yui-chan, Maiko, and Masa, they introduced jellies to you, which you fell in love with. After saying goodbye to them, we bought several bags of them. Back in the UK, Mama buys jellies on a regular basis now.

In the trip where you met Yui-chan, Maiko, and Masa, and discovered jellies, we also did other fun stuff. We went to the Thomas Land in the Fuji-Q Highland, by taking the Thomas Train. We left Amagasaki late morning, and got on a shinkansen to Shin Yokohama. It was just a weekday in January, so we expected there would be some space, but the shinkansen was so packed! There were many people standing in-between carts. Pushing our buggy, it was hard to move and stand in narrow space, while making sure you were okay. Fortunately, at Kyoto station, many people got off. As soon as they were off, I went to find us seats. I saw 2 seats next to each other at the front row available, so I threw my bag to reserve those seats (nevertheless there were 2 people in front of me [but they were not together, so should be fine]), saying ‘Sorry!’. It was a right decision: we were able to sit together, and enjoyed our lunch boxes. Taking care of you is much easier for 2 of us, rather than 1, indeed MUCH easier. I had a Tamba beef bento in this shinkansen ride, it was amazing!

We stayed near the Thomas Land on that day, and went there next day. It was so empty, which was good for us to enjoy there. We did all the rides, and re-did some of them. It was great to see you happy, curious, and excited. Everywhere you saw, there was someone from Thomas. Looking at Mt Fuji under the sunshine, we had a great day. We left the Thomas Land (we almost forgot to take our buggy back from a coin locker), and took a bus to our next hotel. I enjoyed this part of the trip; different trains and transports, and hotels. Next time, we will definitely do this kind of short trip again.

Time in Japan just flew by so fast, but we certainly made the most of it (other things we did: Kaiyukan, petting animals, playing in the parks, Purikura, Anpanman museum etc)! Look forward to visiting there again.

Back to the UK, we started to have our normal life (and late January, I got sabbatical!). We had some snow days, and especially Mama wanted to go outside, and play with snow. We went out, and although you didn’t seem to enjoy the snow much, we had good pictures. The weather this year has been unexpectable. Because of it (maybe or maybe not), we did the Setsubun late-February. We went to Markeaton Park, and Mama and I put on the Oni masks, and you threw beans at us. You were not really scared of us, just found us funny, and threw or ate beans. You said ‘Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi’ several times.

In March, we went to see a circus. Mama found discount tickets, so we got to see it for a cheap price. There were so many funny and impressive acrobats, but you found a stick with a crown most entertaining (because it spins and lights up!). At halfway the show, you found boys and girls around your age, so you sat with them. Amazing how naturally and easily you blend with other children! It was a great night out! There are so many things that are more fun to do it with you, and for us, seeing you having fun is priceless.

In April, because Mama got very busy preparing for your birthday party, and I have flexibility in time because of sabbatical, I spent a lot of time with you. We walked and ran on the Broadway, went to parks and the shop, observed bugs etc. I really enjoyed those times with you. You grow so fast physically and mentally, and now can do so many things. You run fast, throw far, open and close doors, help me throw away trash, and of course talk a lot (got from Mama). Now you are turning 3 years old. Just 3 years, and look how many things you can do by yourself! It is, in your word, eskellent! After bathing, if I am lucky, we lie down together, which is one of the greatest moments for me (actually this morning Mama, you and I did it).

I can’t count how many moments you made me feel happy. Happy 3rd birthday, our happiness.

Author of 10 articles, Papa


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