Robert & Roberta Adair

 

ADAIR UPDATE

 

Stories from Robert & Roberta Adair

Something fun about Kumon (a kids afterschool cram school that I go to twice a week for language) is that I get to read stories that Japanese kids grow up with.  Sometimes I’m so bogged down by new vocabulary that I don’t really get the meaning of the story; sometimes even if I understand the vocabulary, I still don’t get the meaning.

For instance, one story was about a wise rabbit teaching a mischievous tanuki (“raccoon dog”) a lesson.  Wise Rabbit befriends Tanuki by making yummy food.  Then Wise Rabbit takes Tanuki into the mountains to gather firewood.  When Tanuki has the firewood strapped on his back, Wise Rabbit lights it on fire.  And the crazy thing is that the Tanuki is the one who cries and says he’s sorry.  What?!  Is the moral of the story, “don’t be bad or someone will deceive you into thinking he/she is your friend and then try to set you on fire?”  Wow.

I just had a few more stories for homework, and here is my take on the morals:

lessons from Kumon and Aesop

  1. If you see a god of stone with a bare “head” in the cold, put a hat on it and you will be repaid with heaps of treasure.
  2. If you have a choice between choosing a big secret box and a small secret box, choose the small one.  Small = treasure.  Big = scary ghosts.
  3. If you have a chicken that isn’t laying as many eggs as you want, don’t make it fat or it’ll stop laying altogether.
  4. A cunning fox will use your vanity to go after what it wants: the piece of meat dangling from your mouth. (“sing, silly bird, sing!”)
  5. If you see something holding what you’re holding, don’t bark or you’ll lose it into the water (because you already have what you want…and it’s your reflection, silly).
  6. Be like a hardworking ant and not a lazy grasshopper or you’ll starve in winter.
  7. Let small ants live because they will bite the feet of the hunter trying to shoot you (same story twice: pigeon and ant; lion and mouse).

These stories and others’ morals are a little more clear:  warnings of greed and the importance of generosity, humility, contentedness, hard work, and being kind.  Some of the stories (4-7, I believe) are Aesop’s Fables, which apparently came to Japan in the 16th century.  I’m grateful for the insight into kids and culture, and I’m enjoying revisiting some of these classic tales.  Now if only the vocabulary would stick…

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