You may be asking, “why is a 17-year-old teenager talking about parenting and children out of all things?”.
Good question. Short answer is pretty much that I’ve watched some fantastic shows that involve a parent/guardian-child relationship, a recent example being the currently airing Gakuen Babysitters, and while it warms my heart to see said relationship develop throughout a story, it also made me see the aspect of parenting and taking care of a child in a different light, as I do currently have a completely different perspective on that matter.
Now that being said, don’t worry, I’m not in any way interested in having children now, I’d be insane if I was. I think with the previous reason I stated, alongside myself being surrounded by so many little kiddos in my family, I’ve learned a few positive things about children.
As I said, I have a completely different viewpoint on taking care of children: I despise it. While babies are bearable, toddlers are on a completely different level. I just can’t keep up with their energy and once they start crying, everything goes to shit. I have sympathy for parents who have to go through that every single day.
Oddly it’s been mentioned that I have the vibe of a parent by one of my friends who said I would probably be great as a parent in the future. It’s mainly because I’m the only calm and collective one in my group of way-too-energetic friends and have to keep them in control if they do anything problematic.
However beyond the loud crying and always being paranoid that they’ll stick a metal fork in the power outlet, kids are cool. They can be funny, smart and have a ton of potential to change the world we live in once they grow up.
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
— John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Even though you may see this statement as a little false as of right now due to more and more parents being okay with allowing their children to watch TV and YouTube videos anywhere via smartphones and tablets very often now… let’s just say that we shouldn’t give up that fast. 😛
But to transition into my main point today, many anime shows that deal with parenting and taking care of a child, like I said, not only made me love the relationship between the parent and child but also made it seem that parenthood isn’t all that bad.
I’ll be talking about three shows today: Amaama to Inazuma, Usagi Drop and Gakuen Babysitters (I didn’t watch Poco’s Udon World and/or Aishiteruze Baby but I do assume that they are nice shows to consider with today’s topic at hand).
Amaama to Inazuma (2016) has a story about a husband (Kouhei Inuzuka) who recently lost his wife and suddenly has full responsibility of taking care of their 5-year-old daughter (Tsumugi) by himself. Because he is so busy as a high school teacher, Kouhei doesn’t have the time and even knowledge on how to give/cook his own child a better lunch than convenience store pre-cooked food.
The single father was not happy with what he was feeding his kid, and with the help of a student in his class (Kotori Iida) who helps run her mom’s restaurant, Kouhei decided to learn the ropes on how to create homemade and delicious food for Tsumugi, figure out Tsumugi’s tastes and how to help her enjoy foods she may have not enjoyed before (i.e. vegetables), and ultimately make her happy.
In Usagi Drop (2011), we follow 30-year-old Daikichi Kawachi, a man with a normal life, single and works a normal job while not being sure where he’s going in life. When his grandfather passes away, he comes back home to pay his respects and finds a young girl named Rin Kaga, who is later revealed as the illegitimate child of Daikichi’s late grandfather.
Having absolutely no clue on what to do with Rin as her father has now passed, the family starts to shun the little girl and consider her a “mistake”. Daikichi is disgusted at how his own family is treating a blood member, let alone a six-year-old child, and immediately decides that he himself will take Rin in his care, even though he has no experience in parenting at all.
Lastly, a show currently airing in the Winter 2018 anime season, Gakuen Babysitters (2018) expresses the story of the Kashima brothers, Ryuuichi and Kotaro, and after both their parents died in a plane crash, they are taken in by a chairwoman of an elite academy. There, Ryuuichi finds himself as a busy man, as he has to juggle school, taking care of his baby brother and being a member of the babysitting club, all at the same time.
Other than that all three of these shows share the unfortunate events of death in the family, they share the same scenarios and “characteristics” that are present in an anime about parenting and children:
- adapting to a completely new life
- dealing with the natural behavior of children
- keeping/making the child happy
- the importance of a child’s presence
Obviously when we’re dealing with taking care of another human being who can’t function by themselves at their current state, your life completely turns upside down and whatever you did in your past life most likely will stop occurring. In Amaama to Inazuma, Kouhei didn’t expect the unexpected to happen so fast which ended up with him having to gain every single one of the duties in taking care of his daughter, making him more and more busy in his already hectic life.
You really have to give it up to single parents. Adapting to a life where you don’t have another helping hand right by your side and having to do everything yourself with your best effort, those parents need a huge award.
Ryuuichi in Gakuen Babysitters has a similar situation to Kouhei, as he being a young teenager who has to depend on succeeding in his studies and taking care of his personal life/health, Ryuuichi now has caring for a human being 24/7 on his to-do list. It definitely made him change the way he lived his expected teenager life such as him deciding that being in a romantic relationship and having a girlfriend wouldn’t be the best thing to do currently, as Kotaro is his top priority.
It must be tough to be such a young individual and already having to give up many things in his youth because of an incident that wasn’t his fault. Adapting to that kind of life sounds hard, one minute you’re a developing teenager, next minute you’re a teenager AND a full-fledged guardian of a child but Ryuuichi so far has been on top of things, surprisingly.
Daikichi in Usagi Drop is also similar to both Kouhei and Ryuuichi’s stories but in a much different perspective. Daikichi, in my opinion, adapts the most as he went from being alone most of his life and just going into work every single day, to becoming a real parent by struggling in the beginning such as finding an available daycare, trouble with clothing sizes for Rin, having to cut things from personal life such as going out with friends and changing job positions in order to take of Rin more after and especially slowly learning how to keep up with the energy of a six-year-old child.
As you can see and as I say adapting for the millionth time already, adapting into a new life with taking care of a child can be difficult but important in parenthood.
I think we all know how children can act, right? Some are quiet and collective (like my boy Kotaro), some are so energetic and want attention, some are curious and love to discover new things. Whatever personality your child has and the way they act, you as a parent/guardian has to appreciate their ambitions, but know when to come in and stop them from doing further damage.
Amaama expresses this concept in a pretty realistic and normal way, as we see multiple times where Kouhei has to scold Tsumugi and a tantrum ends up occurring. In episode 12, Kouhei and Tsumugi go to an okonomiyaki restaurant on the anniversary of Tae’s (mother of Tsumugi and wife to Kouhei) death. However, when Kouhei doesn’t let Tsumugi handle the flipping and cooking and she starts to play around with her food, scolding comes in, she then starts to cry and makes a scene at the restaurant which Kouhei then takes immediate action by trying to calm her down.
Ryuuichi has to deal with this with every single kiddo at the babysitting club, as everyone has a different personality and mindset. One good example is in episode 5, one of the children named Kirin really did believe in witches and wanted to become one. She was so confident that she could prove that witches are real to her friends that she managed to escape the room, climbed up a set of stairs and tried to lift off on her broomstick to see if she could fly. Ryuuichi luckily saved Kirin from her ultimate demise, while also making her realize the harsh truth that sometimes what you believe isn’t always true.
In Usagi Drop‘s case, it’s pretty normal with the silly things Rin does and Daikichi doesn’t like her doing.
As I said, personalities of children can go a long way and even determine what kind of person they are in the future. However, you sometimes might need to let them know what’s right and wrong in order to put them on the right track for the future.
Keeping a child happy can be easy for people who know what they’re doing and also hard for people like me who have no clue on how to make a kid smile.
A great example of this is the whole story of Amaama to Inazuma, which is solely about Kouhei wanting to make Tsumugi happy. Like in the synopsis I wrote earlier, Kouhei is not content with him having to feed Tsumugi with convenience store quality food for lunch and dinner for most of the time. In order for him to change this and make his daughter experience real homecooked meals, he decides to take learning how to cook seriously.
Obviously toys and games can make a kid squeal in happiness but the aspect of cooking is an extremely important thing to know how to do when being a parent. I think most people have the same belief as Kouhei, pre-made and artificial meals are there if there’s really nothing else to eat but homestyle cooking is the only way to enjoy food at the fullest.
Other than food, it’s shown that just being there for your child makes them feel like they’re at ease. Kotaro, Ryuuichi’s little brother, can be a little different from your average child as he doesn’t cry or complain or even shown any emotion most of the time.
While you may see him as a kid who looks dead inside, whenever his brother is around or whenever he wants to see or help Ryu, he would be so very content to do so.
Meanwhile it’s the same with Rin and Daikichi, as Rin developed a strong trust bond with Daikichi, a complete stranger only months before, now considered a father-type figure to her.
There are many types of ways to make a child happy, but maybe the simpler ones are the most effective.
Lastly, I just want to mention that not only do the kiddos have big smiles on their faces, but the parents also do. You may not realize this at first, but parents (at least in these three shows) can be grateful for bringing a child into their world in many ways.
While these reasons may not be canon to their respective series, it’s pretty realistic to think that these characters would think these thoughts:
In Amaama to Inazuma, Kouhei is grateful to have the opportunity to learn the fairly difficult skill of cooking (one he didn’t have at all before), not only for Tsumugi’s sake and keeping her happy, but as a general skill to have in life.
In Usagi Drop, Daikichi is grateful for having Rin come into his life in order to give a little spice and pizzazz to a pretty dull lifestyle he had before. With Rin in his care now, he completely changed the way he lived life as he stopped smoking, actually cleaned his house and adjusted his mildly irresponsible behavior from before.
In Gakuen Babysitters, Ryuuichi is grateful for having the kiddos like Kotaro, Taka, Kirin, Kazuma and Takuma, Midori and even his friends like Inomata and Kamitani feel welcomed and provide fun after having to adapt into a much different lifestyle due to a depressing incident.
I don’t know about you but I’ve learned many things about parenthood and children from these three shows that honestly did shed a different light on the matter. As I said, I don’t like taking care of children as of now, but actually diving deep into why parenthood and children are important to our adult lives has me… for a lack of a better term, “less intimidated” for when my time comes to experience this.
DISCLAIMER: Just because I said something such as “As I said, personalities of children can go a long way and even determine what kind of person they are in the future. However, you sometimes might need to let them know what’s right and wrong in order to put them on the right track for the future.”, does not mean you should take offense from that and feel like your way of treating your children is being threatened. That’s absolutely not my intention, this is after all an opinion-based post. You do you, and I will most likely respect your own actions (unless you’re abusing your kids or something, that’s a big no-no from any sane person).
Thanks for reading!! 😀