Kristen Nemoto Jay
Growing up, I was different than my peers. I was a gumby-ish lanky thing that tried to blend in, only my general awkwardness in my own skin made many of my classmates dart in other directions. Middle school was especially hard as I thought artists like Hanson, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, or Lisa Loeb were the cat’s bananas while others were blasting anything from Death Row Records. To give you a further embarrassing visual: I would be in homeroom, crooning to any artist in the Lilith Fair tour circa 1997 on my CD player, while reading a very well-used edition of Little Women (because my homework or schoolwork was already finished).
I rather not say I have regrets in my life as I truly believe all our experiences shape us into who we are today so therefore I take the good with the bad. However, if I could possibly go back in time to redo or rethink some things in my life, it would be to tell my younger self that being authentic to who you are is totally fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. That just because I liked to read, write poetry or sometimes wish I lived during Victorian times (I was obsessed with the way women dressed in the late 1800s and chose Susan B. Anthony for a school project just so I could dress up like her for my class presentation), doesn’t mean that I’m “weird.” Different, perhaps, but different is good. Different is better than being the same as everyone else. I wish I knew that growing up, or wished I had someone to remind me.
As this issue celebrates Children’s Day, I invite whoever is reading this to reach out to a young person in their life and tell them why they are so special. Kids may seem passive or that they’re not listening most of the time but in reality they are paying very very close attention. Just the other day my daughter started singing “You can fly, you can fly!” from the Peter Pan movie. She had heard it only once when we went on the two-and-a-half minute Peter Pan ride at Disneyland a month ago.
Our cover story, featuring Mark Kanemura’s “I Am a Rainbow!” children’s book, is a great reminder to our keiki that they are unique and shine bright in their own right. As a parent I am especially appreciative of the reminder and lesson from Mark’s book, so as to not allow my own past and judgments to embed on my kids’ future experiences. Kodomo no Hi celebrates our keiki for who they are as they are, and we’re so grateful to have them a part of our newest issue!