I’m taking a bath. Baths in Japan are a big deal; entire enclosures are dedicated to them here.
A small hand appears behind the foggy glass door and my “nephew” peers in, “How’s the water?”
Though he is four, I somehow feel the need to hide myself and, just as quickly, I laugh at my prudishness. He’s four. My breasts mean nothing to him. He’s already made the distinction that I’m not a boy because I “don’t have a wee-wee” like he does. He’s very proud of his wee-wee. It looks like an elephant, he says.
“So, um, there are two bath salts to choose from, you see. One that’s made with rocks and one made with flowers. So, um, which would you like?”
I choose the one with flowers, tickled by his hospitality.
“Okay. Here’s the flower one. And, you know, you can play with toys over there.”
I thank him for his kindness, and he gracefully exits. Moments later, the same small hand appears and he asks again, “How are the bath salts.”
“You sure you don’t want to play with the toys? Here. What’s this letter?”
He grabs the letter T. T is for toh-san [daddy], he says. Yep, you’re right. And we proceeded to go through the entire alphabet, because his idea of a good bath is one that is conversational, engaged over toys. And good baths are a big deal to him, as is making his “guests” feel engaged and tended to.
You’re alright, kid. You’re quite alright.