Saturday, 23 May 2009

Think I pissed my mother-in-law off...?

But this is Japan where nobody will outright tell you they're cheesed off with you, so I can't be sure.

We live VERY close to our in-laws, as in 2 leaps away, however I do have quite long legs so I'm going to say 4 steps. Those of you who live in Japan will understand how close houses can be, in Aussie terms the only way I can describe it is like a block of townhouses where the one directly in front of ours is the in-law's house. (I'll try and take a photo and put it up here)
I was very worried at first, but seeing as though we are paying only 30,000 yen a month for quite a nice two-storey house, we really couldn't pass on it.

It has good and bad points, the good usually outweighing the bad, for example, as I type this I am munching on 'happy town' snacks and sipping coffee, Ashton boy is off with MIL on a shopping trip, so having them so close by is a big help to me. It's also good if i run out of something or need to borrow something, things like that.

My MIL really isn't the interfering type and is not old school medalling at all but we do have our differences.
In the past, whenever we have been out in public she refuses to let anyone else hold Ash, even when she's busy filling out forms or whatever, probably just grandchild pride but does irritate me a bit. Another thing that irks me a little is the fact that if Ash is crying, (as babies will do) Grandma-in-law will be over to our house in a flash asking what's wrong with him....Err, he's a baby...? hehe But overall, they are great and I like living so close, I'd probably get lonely otherwise.

So I think I may have pissed MIL off a bit with the issue of giving Ash a bottle. From the beginning I made it clear I wanted to exclusively breastfeed until he was about 6 months old but be up for starting solids/other liquids from about 4 months or if he seemed ready. From when I came back to Japan, (Ash was 6 weeks old) MIL would subtly slip in how much easier it would be to give him formula, how I could sleep better blah blah blah. I smiled and nodded, then got my boobies out.
I'm very happy I'm still able to breastfeed, I have nothing against bottle feeding but it was just what I wanted to do.

As soon as I got back to Japan, MIL brought over some of those little mugi-cha for babies drinks. What is mugi-cha?? Does it have caffeine?? Because as far as I know, in Aussie, tea is a no no for babies. I told her this and even though it says they can drink it from 1 month on, I pretty much told her straight out that I didn't think he needed any other liquids yet. All good, mugi-cha goes in the cupboard.
Not much mentioned, until the other day when the mugi-cha came out again. It's been quite hot lately and I was thinking of giving Ash a bottle of water, so I agreed to try him with the mugi-cha but I really wasn't all that keen and the look on my face probably showed that.

Ash took the bottle no problem, but as soon as he started drinking his face screwed up with a 'this isn't freakin warm, sweet milk!!' look. I must say, I got a bit of satisfaction knowing that he didn't like it, if he had gulped it down MIL would have had an oppourtunity to shove other stuff down his throat, and there's a nice warm fuzzy feeling from your son needing you and only you. After Ash showed he clearly didn't like it I wanted to stop but MIL kept persisting until I said in a pretty shrill voice, "Stop it, we don't give kids tea in Australia!!" I really didn't mean to come out the way it did and I think MIL was alittle bit shocked, I'm not usually so straight.

Anyway, after that day she was a little bit distant...funny, I don't know, just not usual, so she might have been pissed off. I'm not that bothered though, it's really the only issue we have had so far so I think we're doing pretty good! I am a bit concerned about the future though when Ash is eating solids, I can see him eating all kinds of stuff I don't want him to when he's over there, I'll just have to put my foot down I think.

Another thing I found funny with the in-laws was the whole, 'I can't fight with my family' thing. Recently my SIL and BIL went to Thailand and stayed with a friend of the family who owns a guest house there. SIL got offended at something that was said and basically went mental at the friend in Thailand (friend is Japanese). I was really shocked at this, SIL is always very polite and quiet, I didn't expect it. She told me that she can be angry at friends no problem becasue she can just wipe them from her life, but she can't be angry with family because you can never get rid of them!
haha I thought that was funny, and realised my family is kind of the opposite, I can fight with my mum, dad and sister because I know we'll forgive each other, but I'm more reserved with friends, I'm not really sure why! Maybe because I know I can lose them quite easily???

Anyway, we're having dinner over there tonight so MIL couldn't have been too angry with me! On the driving front, I've now driven the nice smooth family car, been scootering like an Osaka Obachan pro and even been out AND parked the big whale of a land cruiser. Driving here isn't that hard eh! Everyone goes much slower and is much more forgiving when changing lanes etc. So I'm getting pretty confident! (Scooter will take a while though!!)

I best go collect my son, MIL might be giving him black coffee or vodka shots or something!


  1. There are so many of us living parallel lives here in Japan! My PIL live a few steps further away than yours, but seem to play a similar role. I struggled with the "we want to go and play at bachan's" bit for a while because I knew that the children were just going there to get snacks... and then come home. I ended up talking to my MIL about it and we came to the decision that they could have ONE snack when they went there - I didn't bother to try and control the contents too much.
    I think it is important for children to realise that there are different rules for different places and most kids pick up on it very fast. They know they can do certain things here that they can't at bachan's (outside on the grass with no shoes on - the shock of it!), and there are things they can do there that they can't do here (eat raw, moving fish!). I personally don't think it is necessary to make one set of rules for children - itjust makes it a battle between parents and grandparents etc. Of course if it is vodka shots I might be talking a little differently... coffee I have just sighed over!
    Enjoy your free time and as I just said to Sara... smiling and nodding then doing the opposite when people have turned their backs works well for me!

  2. Jo~ oooo nice, I`ll definitely be asking for your advice in the future! I agree, it's hard to control everything. The one snack rule sounds good. i know grandparents are meant to spoil their grandkids but it does change a bit when they live so close hey!
    I'm with you on the smiling and nodding thing, I just haven't quite mastered the skill yet!

  3. Even both paresnts are Japanese, it happens often.
    We are wives tired to handle them ;-)
    In my case, I live with my mom and had my parents-in-laws. It was awesome,hahaha.
    Though I want treat my own baby to do, sometimes they interrupt. It's soooo irritate.
    You should them reveal and show your concept and hope they approve it. Well, I know it's the hardest work.
    And gradually, the kid know all who is the useful person for them. It's not so bad, but yu shold tell him the good point and bad one.
    Living within a big family is hard.
    take it easy.

  4. I feel similar to you about breastfeeding - I'm not against forumla feeding, but for me personally I want to exclusively breastfeed at least until around the New Year. Of course no idea how my MIL will react to that.. she's already sort of scoffed off to my wanting to (partially) use cloth diapers. Saying that its just too difficult... comments like that make me want to prove her wrong though.

    I KNOW just how close you live to MIL and co so I'm sure that there are good and bad days (moments) but I like your place a lot and its a good deal for 3man lol.

    Anyways MIL will get over it...
    I try not to play the "this is how we do it in America" card too much... but honestly the cultural difference even between the young and old Japanese are crazy... already I'm being told to dry my hair before i catch a cold and do i really want to be walking around in flip flops all day?!

    Sigh - thank god for blogs and the good people who read them and listen to us rant it out :P


  5. Manami~ I think you're right, it's hard living with family for everyone! I'll try and compromise, it is touh being a good wife!

    Sara~haha, Oh i get thh dry hair lecture all the time too. It is really hard not to compare our way of doing thngs and the Japanese way but sometimes I really can't help it.

    hehe, That's right, you're probably the only one who knows how close it is!

  6. I can't comment on the BF but I can on the SIL BIL situation-- I think our friends are just as important as family- I've had friends that treated me far better than an Aunt, etc for example-- so the blood water is just-- bs to me.... I try to be myself with friends or family I think you'll find your friends will always be your friends- you may have some tiffs here and there but if you opened up or were more frank with them--- but I can't see you losing them, if they are your REAL friends.. they will always be!!!! Know what I mean?

    Did you say scooter?

    I think you are cool company!!!!

  7. Girl Japan~ Yes, i'm addicted to the scooter now!!! hehe
    I agree about friends and family, to me, my really good friends are my family and we treat each other that way. It worried me a bit with SIL because I thought if I did something to upset her she might not tell me! I don't often have conflict with friends or family anyway so I don't think it shold be a problem!

  8. I just started reading/following your blog, and I don't know if anyone's told you yet, but mugi-cha, while steeped like a tea, isn't really tea since it's not made from tea leaves. It's made from barley (mugi meaning barley), and is akin to an herbal tea, having no caffeine content. It's also used as a coffee-substitute in cooking, as it has a similar flavor. Hope that helps.

    Even though I love mugi-cha...I wouldn't ever let a baby drink it. Mainly because the bitterness probably won't go over well, just as with your son. ^^