Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jiji is Here

It is our big week for grandfathers. We started the week at my dad’s place in the country. Now we are back home and my wife’s father has arrived from Japan.

In Japanese, the word for grandfather is Ojiichan. And that is how we refer to my dad. We call my wife’s father Jiji, a shortened form of the word.

Kai developed a bond with my wife’s father early on. Jiji visited often during Kai’s first two years, and helped to raise Kai during some difficult times. I don’t think Kai remembers anything specific from back then, but I have to believe that the bond he formed with Jiji still exists, even though Jiji now visits only once a year.

When Kai was younger, it didn’t matter that Jiji did not speak much English. After all, Kai did not speak at all. And so the communication was non-verbal, and mostly in one direction. Jiji comforted Kai when he needed it, and gave him lots of love. Kai mostly just cried or sat quietly without response.

As Kai has gotten older, he has become quite sociable. But, in a way, I think that has made things more difficult for Jiji. The language barrier is now more evident. As Kai chats endlessly about Pokémon, Jiji can’t make out what he is saying. And when he tries to speak to Kai, it is sometimes hard to know if Kai understands what he is saying. My own Japanese is pretty limited, so if my wife is not around to interpret, it is hard to foster communication between grandfather and grandson.

But that hasn’t stopped Kai from trying to interact with his grandfather. I’ve already heard Kai’s sweet voice call out “Jiji!” many times as he tries to track down his grandfather.

Yesterday, Kai found his grandfather fixing the blinds in his bedroom. A handy man, my wife had a long list of things around the house for her father to work on. Without even taking any time to get over jet lag, he started right on the list. And Kai had to “help” of course. Jiji patiently worked around Kai’s distractions, smiling at his grandson’s energy.

After spending much of this week with two grandfathers, Kai seems to have a handle on both of them. As he watched Jiji fix a kitchen cabinet, out of the blue he said, “Ojiichan is the expert at nature, and Jiji is the expert at fixing things.”

Hah, succinct but so true.

It’s going to be fun seeing how much more Kai learns about Jiji on this visit.

(Note: The photo was taken the last time Jiji visited, about 16 months ago.)


  1. How sweet. I love that he doesn't' need language to bond with his grandpa.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Megan. I just checked out your blog... very funny!

  3. Another good Grandpa story. It makes me start to wonder about how good of a grandfather I shall be. Kai's Maternal Grandfather seems to be a very compassionate man. I guess being a Grandparent is special because you may give unlimited affection without the need to set the rules, as the parents do that. I never really knew my I wish I had been able to have gotten to know them more (I had seen them only when I had lived in Japan or had visited there).

  4. I only knew one of my grandparents very well. I think it is unfortunate that in many cases, the wisdom of grandparents are not really appreciated by the grandchildren. They are often too young to understand, or, the grandparents are too old to impart their knowledge. So, it is often up to us, the parents, to teach our children more about their grandparents.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...