Copyright© 2011 by Pedant
The afternoon was different. As soon as Rachel and her family arrived, Sarah dragged Al to her room to play and the five adults sat in the kitchen. Rachel and I stayed in the garden, where we could eavesdrop – like Kim overhearing the news at Creighton's.
Mum was broaching the question of Rachel's schooling.
"They'll have to take her back!" exclaimed Michiko.
"I'm not sure, it's not a state school," said dad.
Chaz wasn't certain, either. Mum and Michiko had a lot of "ought" and "should," but not a lot of information. Rob just listened. I couldn't see his face. After about half an hour, Rachel interrupted.
"Mum! What about the presents?"
"No, she's right," said my Dad. "And I need to get the coals going." He got up and went outside with Chaz. Rachel and Michiko went to their car.
"Dad, can you give me a hand?" Mum asked Rob. Then she turned to me: "You get Sarah and Al down here. I'm sure there's a gift for Sarah.
There was. Rachel gave her a beautiful kabuki doll. Mum got a book on Japanese gardens. Dad got a (dead) rhinoceros beetle in a lucite box. And I got a copy of Yasuda's Treasury Of Japanese Folk Tales, in an edition with both Japanese and English.
"Wow!" I said.
"Will you learn some Japanese?" Chaz asked.
"I'll try. I'll have to get a beginner's textbook, though."
"I've got one!" Rachel said. "We'll work together."
"Do you think you can do that?" asked Mum.
"Japanese is harder than English."
"That's silly, Mum. Are Japanese kids smarter than Aussie kids? Than Brit kids? Kids are kids, they learn their culture. The stuff around them. Is Martha smarter than her mother? Martha reads and her mother barely can."
"He's right, you know, Weena," Dad said. "Every child learns her or his ambient language. And writing systems are just ways of representing languages." He went back to the food. "Tucker in under five minutes."
"What do you do with the old Australians?" Rob asked.
"The copies of Friday's and yesterday's Australian."
"Oh. They should be at the top of the stack near the washing machine."
"I'll show you, Rob," I said.
I found them. He looked at Friday's and said: "There! Problem solved." I had no idea what he meant, but we went back into the garden.
"Here, Chaz. This should answer the school question." He pointed to an article on page three or page five – not the front, anyway.
Chaz took the paper and read a bit. "You may be right, Rob, but I don't really get it. I rather think you've got a notion, but it's not clear to me."
"What's going on?"
"Just tend the food, Gordy. We'll discuss this in a bit."