Having a Baby in Japan.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso quotes from BrainyQuote.com


I am a father now.

Nearly three weeks ago my kid was born here in the Hyogo region of Japan. The following is what I will remember:

Japanese maternity wings are a hoot. The nurses worked so very hard to make sure that my wife was comfortable. Each person we met was thoroughly professional.

My mother-in-law and I put aside our cultural differences and language barriers to work as a team. We rotated rubbing my wife’s back for over twelve hours of labor until the decision to go with a cesarean section.

My wife never screamed. She relaxed as she headed into the operating room for her pain was finally coming to a halt. Her toughness impressed me no end. For some reason, pain medicine is not an option in Japan.

Our maternity ward still uses rotary phones. The hallways were dark and the aircon was kept at a minimum to save electricity and to help the environment. The hospital was old but exceptionally well-maintained. At no times was I a bit worried about my wife’s care.

I loved hanging out in the waiting room with the grandmas to-be. They were so patient with my atrocious Japanese language ability.

My wife timed her feedings like a Tokyo train conductor.

The nurses constantly go from room to room delivering tea from gigantic jugs. Tea is an all day affair.

I got to ride a bike to the hospital for eight days straight to visit the kid. Each visit, my wife asked me for the latest World Cup results. This made me strangely proud.

My wife came home well-trained. She was totally confident in her ability to raise her baby. The nurses were outstanding. My mother-in-law woke me up at 6:30 in the morning to make final preparations for the baby’s arrival. I scrubbed like a madman.

Sleep deprivation is no joke. My wife has lost the ability to add double-digit numbers. I have forgotten to brush my teeth and use deodorant, at times.

My mom’s phone calls are always appreciated. She gave birth to five boys and a girl so I heed her advice. Each time she calls I feel better. She reassures us that we are doing great.

The kid is healthy and growing. So many of my worries from the last ten months have gone by the wayside.

My kid acts like a some sort of urine sniper. He has bagged me seven times already.

Time to breathe!

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A School Teacher talks to his Mom and Dad about Reading

“Read, read, read, read, read. Read everything. You can’t work unless you know the world, and outside of living in the world the best way to learn about the world is to read about it.”    

           -John Goodman


I wrote this piece on the plane back to Hong Kong. I left home with a heavy heart as saying goodbye to my mom and dad is becoming increasingly difficult as we age.

Alas, both are mentally as sharp as ever. My dad’s caregivers all rave about his reading habits and kind soul. My mom still consistently has magazines, newspapers and books by her sofa.

On my last night, while packing, I told my wife that both continue to teach me how to live. Both model how I want to grow old. It is especially good to see my dad held in such high regard by so many new acquaintances.

My parents have influenced my reading life more than anyone else. More importantly, they have made me see the value of teaching kids how to read. Indirectly, both remind me that teaching kids to read is the best part of my job.

Each workday, I gather, promote, share, encourage, analyze, and celebrate the reading of great texts. I then watch the kids grow as readers, pruning here and there, along the way. I know that my life has meaning as long as I can help kids become readers for life. This is what I want to do in some aspect for the rest of my days.

With that in mind I have recorded podcast interviews with both Jean Mernin and Bill Mernin. Both are around six minutes long and I think each is time well spent.

Enjoy and happy reading to you.