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All dressed up and too many places to go!

Sunday of last week was a very busy day, I found myself booked to be at three different places, all at the same time. As much as I would like to transcend my body and be everything to everyone everywhere.....some things are just not possible.

First was the open day at No.2 son's school. It is a boarding school with parents travelling from a long way away to attend, so it's an all-day affair. As our family live the closest to the school, about 30 minutes drive away, No.2 son was scheduled to be the first presenter of the day, at 9:30am. However, this is where the first problem arose.  I was also booked to be at the PTA school cleaning session for my daughter`s school, in the village. This was scheduled from 8am and normally lasts a good 2 hours or so. Junsho was away with the kendo team at a match.  Though I really wanted to give the cleaning a miss, I came up with another solution, ask No.2 son`s teacher to reschedule son`s presentation time, which he graciously did, to 12 noon.

All was well and good until we got the phone call, a wake on the Saturday night, the funeral at 11am on the Sunday. No Junsho, so I HAD to be available to chant at the funeral with father-in-law. I couldn`t ask the teacher to change the presentation time AGAIN, so I had to just see what I could do.

Sunday morning, first thing, I took No.1 son to his kendo practice at his school, I then drove to daughter`s school for 2 hours of back-breaking weeding of the baseball ground. I then drove home, got changed into my robes and drove back into town to the funeral centre.  Performed the funeral...slipped out after the service and BEFORE the hearse left to take the deceased to the crematorium (Father-in-law did the crematorium services), and drove like a bat out of hell, to get to No.2 son's school just as he was starting his presentation.  I had had no time to change, so there I was, fully-robed, smelling very strongly of incense from the funeral and puffing and panting as I had run from the school entrance to the classroom.

Son`s eyes widened in alarm when he saw me, not only does he have to suffer the embarrassment of having a foreigner for a mother, she comes to school open day dressed as if for Halloween! His classmates and parents were very curious about my outfit, I think they all did know no.2 son was a temple kid but... still, to see me in my foreign flesh dressed in very traditional Japanese garb....!

When the children streamed out of the classroom after the presentations, son hissed at me, `Ditch the outfit, Mum!` I protested that I wouldn`t have made it in time for his presentation if I had gone somewhere and changed first. As it was lunchtime, I drove to a friend`s temple, 5 minutes away from the school, where I could change back into my civilian clothes. I then drove to a little soba restaurant and sat down for bowl of buckwheat noodles and a well-earned rest. 40 minutes later, back to school, for the rest of the presentations and the parent-teacher`s talk.

The logistics of balancing being a priest and a mother can be quite mind-boggling. I do end up in the supermarket in my robes with a basket on my arm getting vital family supplies. I have also taught nursery classes, `Head, shoulders, knees and toes` fully robed up as a priest, because I didn`t have enough turn-around time between my nursery commitments and my temple commitments. The class of 3 and 4 year olds didn't blink an eye-lid, I was just Victoria-sensei who always looks different from their other teachers, strange colour hair, strange colour skin and eyes, today, she has a weird outfit on, that`s cool, no problem. I have yet to combine my bus-driving with my priesting, but maybe there will be a day when I will find myself driving the 29 seater kendo bus, red-haired, robed-up and ready to go.


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Genbuzan Shonen-ji Temple, Kamino 2771, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki-ken, Japan 882-1411