Coat, hat and gloves on, I scoop up his school bag / randoseru (?????) by the leather shoulder straps and heave it onto his back. He pushes the door open to leave for school he turns to me, sighs and says: “Another long day at school for me.”

It can be hard to get the cogs turning on Feb mornings, Christmas fun and frolics firmly in the memory banks, frosty mornings and long dark nights present.

The cafe is so busy it’s hard to find a seat.

A teenage girl in a tangerine woollen jumper holds her hand to her mouth as she eats a blueberry muffin. I’m reminded of the current wave of the same gesture being used on social media to demonstrate astonishment.

I order a large decaf Americano with two extra shots and sit and think. The other day, I was saying goodbye to Taiga and explaining that I was going to take a long walk, to which he said to me: “You don’t have to go out for a walk – You know you don’t have to do it everyday – just relax Daddy” This made me question what I was doing and wondered if he wanted me to stay in with him.

I heard my father’s voice in Taiga’s, Dad often tells me to “take it easy” reinforcing the message with repeated plays of the Jackson Browne classic track:

I needn’t have worried, Taiga was content and happy to stay in watching TV, he had little interest in walking by the bay. On reflection I think he was influenced by what I frequently say to him about taking it easy, and the importance of taking breaks. He receives a lot of pressure to excel academically and he works hard, doing 2 hours homework on weeknights and up to 4 -6 hours on weekend days. I’ve seen him get worked up and frustrated when he hits a difficult task and it’s at times like those when I’ll chime in with “Take it easy. Breathe. Walk around…. Let’s go outside.”

I’m a great believer in break times. I once met music producer Ethan Johns and the most useful piece of advice he gave me was “Tidy your studio!” As in, if you meet a seemingly insurmountable obstacle or get stuck for inspiration – then stand up and tidy your work space up a bit. This small act can untangle big problems. And if not, then at least you’ve got a tidy space 🙂

The language barrier means I can’t help Taiga with much of his homework, so I hope I’ve had a positive influence on him with this.

As I leave the café there’s a couple in their early thirties waiting to cross the road. They’re speaking in American accents and the lady is wearing brown leggings. It occurs to me that you so rarely see Japanese women wearing leggings. But it’s not a modesty thing as short skirts are popular here.

I believe I am making a difference to Taiga.

Dan x

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