My Kids Are Emo
I was leaving school one Friday afternoon when I ran into a pair of sannensei girls. I hadn’t seen them in a while, so they came over to talk to me. One girl was obviously quite stressed out though. As sannensei, most of their year is devoted to studying for high school entrance exams. They quit their school clubs halfway through the year so they can double up on cram schools. And as the tests loom closer, their stress levels get exponentially high. For these two girls, they had entrance exams the following Monday, so they were particularly freaked.
As usual, I tried to reassure them by telling them they were good, smart kids, and I was sure they’d do fine on their tests. The one girl though was wigging out beyond all belief. “No, I’m going to fail. I’m sure of it. Maybe. Well, I might have a chance. But come to think of it, maybe not. Or — argh! It’s too stressful. I just want to kill myself.”
Jesus Christ, that’s not funny.
I told her she shouldn’t even joke about that kind of thing. “Well, it’s true,” she says. “Maybe I’d be dead, but I’d be stress-free and happy.” Note to Japan: you all need a vacation. Right now. Just drop whatever it is you’re doing, and board the first plane to the Bahamas. Do not come back until you are three shades darker, and don’t even know what the meaning of the word “overtime” is.
Actually, I think Japan is way past this point. They should just dump the purest, strongest weed in the water supply. Grind it up and sprinkle it in the rice fields. Drastic measures are needed.
Mother: Son, are you doing your homework?
Son: Yeah I … fuck it, I’ll do it later. I’m hungry, when’s dinner?
Mother: I’m not gonna cook tonight. Here’s 500 yen, go to McDonalds.
Son: Cool. Wait, does McDonalds do delivery?
McD’s: Fuck you son, we’re doing it Japanese style now – we give you the cow, you kill it and cook it yourself. Make your own damn Big Mac.
When I first came, these kids were ichinensei. I’ve watched them go from energetic, happy twelve year olds to the soulless zombies they are today. The girl I was talking to, three years ago, I remember she’d be the first one to enter a class and the last one to leave. She’d always thrust her hand in the air and say “Hai! Hai! Hai!” to answer a question, regardless of whether or not she actually knew the answer. Three years later and she’s CRAAAAAAAAWLINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG IN HER SKIIIIIIINNNNNNN and joking about killing herself. Granted, teenage ANGST! is nothing specific to Japan, but it’s of a very different nature. When I was 15, I remember my big three concerns were:
1. Becoming the Street Fighter II champion in my neighborhood.
2. Finding a date for the school dance.
3. Making sure my kicks (sneakers) were cool and name brand, like Nike or Reebok. Because coming to school sporting Puma’s was the kiss of death.
However, for Japanese kids, the list goes something like:
1. Finishing all their school homework, and then finishing their cram school homework after that.
2. Passing the high school entrance exams so they cannot fuck up their entire lives at the age of fifteen.
3. Not dying.
And people ask me why I don’t want to raise kids in Japan.