So, how have we got on with the jet lag? Rather well, thank you for asking. The first few nights saw some erratic sleep patterns – waking fully and promptly at about 4am – but I think it’s safe to say now that everyone is doing the whole day-and-night thing at about the right time. Oddly, daughter seemed the first to recover, getting into the hang of bedtimes at the right time from the start. (Although, night two did see her waking at about 2am, and since – thanks to husband’s propensity to book things at the last minute – I was sharing a bed with her, I was treated to her shifting, tossing, turning, face stroking, hair patting, kicking and kissing.)
However – after a few days we realised her apparent acclimatisation was not entirely thorough. She would wake promptly at 7am, and seem chirpy. After an hour or two she segued into the whiny tone of voice that puts my teeth on edge and makes me want to repeatedly bang my head off a hard surface, her complaints scraping on my soul like an out-of-tune violin. Her mood would even out at about midday; then, at 7pm, straight after dinner and for about an hour more, she became what can only be described as fever-pitched. Bouncing off the walls. Laughing like a drain. Teasing her brother so persistently I felt she was literally begging for trouble.
Then it dawned on me – though her body had adjusted to Japan time, her brain refused to. And I realised I had responded in exactly the same way. Bedtime and getting-up time came pretty naturally, pretty quickly – but there was, for the first few days, a sense of lethargic somnambulism first thing in the morning, and a let’s-get-this-party-started buzz in the evening. I’m convinced that my vague theory of our subconscious relying on a habitual rhythm of time is a Scientific Thing.
Son displayed a more overt struggle with the change in time zone when he lost a battle with his noodles in the cafe on day two. Or day three, if you count the 11-hour flight here as day one. He had bravely approached them with chopsticks; then surrendered and requested a fork; then threw the fork down, sobbing that the noodles were too slippery. (As it happens, they were, but this is not something that would normally have him collapsing in tears in public.) Young man on the next table leant over to give son a packet of tissues. (Ha! Thus undermining the claim that nose blowing in public is unacceptable!)
Anyway, one week into the trip, and I think we’re all now in Japan mentally as well as physically.
Although – daughter has begun an out-of-character and potentially disturbing habit of counting the white stripes at every pedestrian crossing. I could overanalyse this and credit such behaviour with a desire for order and control in an insecure situation. But I don’t have the qualifications to be that wanky. (Having said that, on the Shinkansen back from Sapporo to Tokyo, again thanks to husband’s stubborn belief that booking things at the last minute is okay, we each had a seat in a different row, so poor daughter was sandwiched between two Japanese men, behind me and in front of her brother. She gallantly watched Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Hotel Transylvania on her tablet, with no complaint; but on surfacing to the street with her hand in mine began a lament that she hated Japan, she missed home, she didn’t want to be here any more, she wanted to go home… I don’t have the qualifications but as her mum I’m going to hazard a guess that she’s feeling a bit out of her depth.)
Talking of pedestrian crossings (which I did about five sentences back), the ones here don’t bleep at you like a needy alarm – they chirrup like songbirds. Which makes up for the crows, which don’t caw with emphysemic croaks but – I swear – laugh at you. Haa, they say. Haa. Haa.