June 26, 2012

Penis Cookies - What Happens When Mommy Isn't Paying Attention

I have to put a disclaimer in here before I begin to tell this story. In my defense, it was really hot outside, the kids were done, and I was exhausted from lack of sleep. Sooo. . . 

Most of the time I really like living here. We've been here almost a year but there are still times when I definitely feel like a fish out of water. I don't speak the language, and I can't read most of the advertisements, or packaging on anything when we're out in town. This makes life challenging sometimes, and quite entertaining as well!

My friend and I decided to take her sister who is visiting the island, down to Kokusai Dori, or International Street. It's a lovely shopping street in Naha that has open front stores that sell everything. And I do mean everything. I was super excited because I've been wanting to go back there since my husband and I took my parents last Christmas. It's really a new experience every time you go. There is always something different to see. I absolutely love it there.

As you wander down Kokusai Dori, occasionally you will see covered allies or arcades. These covered allies have side allies sprouting off in all directions, and eventually you find yourself within a labyrinth of stores selling clothing, food, candy, booze, hand blown glass, crafts, jewelry, and there is even a drug store or two. You can get lost in there in an instant.

After we had finished a delicious teppanyaki lunch, with our children in their strollers, we ventured out into the streets and arcades to take a look. I had promised my son during lunch that if he ate well he could pick out one treat or toy while we were window shopping. We looked in several stores that had little "junk" toys out front, but my son was looking for something in particular. Legos. Well unfortunately, Legos are not one of the items frequently sold in these places. Most of the shops have candy, toys, cards, Awamari (a very potent Okinawan rice wine), sake, etc. There are no "children's" stores. Everything is kind of jammed into one space, and they go from "child-friendly" to "adult-friendly" in the space of about 20 feet. 

As we entered our final shop that had several junk toys out front, I warned my son that this was his last chance to choose something. My attention was split between what my son was looking at, and my daughter who was sitting in the stroller just outside the shop with my friend. My son approached me with a cute little box that was decorated in colorful flowers. 

"I want these cookies Mom!" He says holding out the colorful box. He'd grabbed it from a low shelf a few feet in front of me. I can see the shelf is at the perfect height to catch his eye and full of other different colored boxes.

I hear fussing, and the beginning of a melt-down coming from the direction of my daughter and my friend who also has her own baby in a stroller. I turn around to check and see if everything is ok. It's hot out, and we've been walking around for nearly an hour. It's getting to be time to go. I turn back around to see my son marching toward the cash register.

"Are you sure that's what you want?" I ask while rushing after him.

"Yep!" He says

"They're cookies?" I say. "Let me see." I briefly glance at box that he is still holding and see that it is overwhelmingly covered in Japanese writing, and a what appears to be little sugar cookies coated in a layer of chocolate. I turn back to my friend and tell her that we're going to go pay for the cookies. As we walk to the register I notice a small group of young Japanese adults staring at me and my son. This is not unusual behavior. We get stared at everywhere we go. We're obviously Americans, and my son is blonde. We stick out like a sore thumb. 

My son hands the lady behind the check out counter his box of cookies and the Yen. He is so proud that he's paid for it himself. We walk out of the store with his cookies in a little bag.

Later as we're walking to our cars, my friend's sister looks at my son who is now riding in the stroller again, and has obviously broken into his box of cookies.

"Do you realize those are penis cookies?" She asks me.

I look closely at the box. Sure enough. On my too brief and clearly insufficient check of  the product, what I'd mistaken for an innocent baby holding a chocolate covered cookie, is actually a naked cartoon baby, with his tiny little baby wiener and balls hangin' out there, holding a chocolate covered penis. And to make matters worse, there is a martini on the table next to him. . . 

Are. You. Fricking. Serious.

I just bought my child penis cookies! Yes, chocolate covered penises! No way. In my haste to start for home, I've just made a big mistake. However, I refuse to panic, and instead just straight see the humor in this!! My son clearly had no idea what they were and was utterly unfazed by the fact that there is a naked baby on the front of the box. All he saw were chocolate covered cookies. (God bless the innocence of children.) And I was mentally berating myself. He didn't eat very many. I don't think they were very good. . . 

Once we were on our way home with both children asleep in the back, and the box of edible porn next to me on the front seat, I began to laugh uncontrollably. I can't believe I didn't realize what was on the front of the box! I am a total dipshit! What kind of mother am I?!?! Oh. And I also understood the group of staring Japanese people. . . 

Clearly several lessons were learned here. 
1. The Japanese like to put pornographic food in colorful boxes with cartoons on them. 
2. Japanese people like to stock these products on shelves directly at a child's eye level, and right next to the cute little stuffed Shisa Dogs, and Whale Sharks.
3. I must pay close attention at all times to what my son is looking at while in any Japanese store. This is NOT like America where sugary penises would have been out of a child's sight completely, only available for purchase via internet, catalogue, sex toy party, or porn store.
4. I must very thoroughly inspect any product my son wishes to buy to ensure that we never, ever buy chocolate covered phalluses again.

June 16, 2012

In Perspective

It's nearly impossible for me to sit down at my computer and write when I have a lot to say especially when most of what I want to say I can't talk about for security reasons, and to protect the privacy of the people involved.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, not all of it was good. And as ashamed and embarrassed as I am to say it, it's really forced me to hit the pause button. It's unfortunate that a series of difficult events is what it takes for some of us to stop and just be grateful for what we have. I don't mean to be a major downer, and I of all people should know better, but sometimes we get so caught up in the mundane that we forget, or get too busy to really take a look, evaluate our lives and our circumstances. I've spent a lot of time in the last several weeks playing the "would've, could've, should've" game, thanking God, and just plain appreciating my life, and my family, and all that we have. The things I have to "complain" about at the moment, pale in comparison. . .

Once again we have a hurricane headed toward Okinawa. At the moment, this one is forecast to be nearly a direct hit at a Category 3 or 4 according to wunderground.com. I ventured out this afternoon to replenish our nonperishable food supply in the event that our power goes out, and pick up a few extra supplies. The line for the checkout at the commissary was ridiculous. Insane. I've never seen it that bad anywhere we've lived. When it was finally our turn, my total came to around $280.00. Two hundred, eighty dollars is way, way over our usual weekly grocery bill, but we'd also bought our storm supplies in addition to our usual groceries, so I paid it without batting an eyelash.

While the cashier was processing my payment and printing up my receipt, a sense of humility came over me. (This has been happening to me a lot lately) I realized how lucky I am to be able to just go to the store, buy everything we need, and pay for it all without even having to worry about it. Things were not always this way for me and my husband. Especially when we were first married. There are a lot of military families, and American families in general, that don't have that luxury. And I realized again how blissfully normal my life really is. Or as normal as it can be for the family of an active duty soldier, And of course then I thought about those whose lives will never be this blissfully normal again. . .

I've been making a serious effort not to needlessly complain about stupid, unimportant crap. I may joke occasionally, or at times have a legitimate ailment. Sure this typhoon is going to be a huge pain, especially if we lose power, but really in the grand scheme of things, it's a minor annoyance. I DO have food in my house. I DO have a house that will keep us safe from the storm. My children ARE healthy. My amazing husband IS alive and uninjured. In my opinion there really isn't much else that matters.

Those who know me personally, know that I am loud-mouthed, opinionated, and likely certifiably crazy, so I probably won't be able to stop playing the "would've, could've, should've" game for a while. It's just the way my mind works through the tough stuff. But this, all of this, has forced even me to shut up for a bit, reboot, and put life into perspective again.