The start of Kindergarten life is a big event for a little toddler, I believe. Suddenly no more lazy days with dad at home, no more play days at the community center, no more weekday mornings in the park, but instead lots of new friends to play with every day and a new structure to life without dad always being there. And teachers that tell our little boy what he can and cannot do. I believe that he was told what he could not do a lot at his old kindergarten, and this made a strong impression on him.

Batsu is a Japanese word meaning something like punishment or penalty and is being used a lot in society to say when something is not allowed or not possible. Since a few weeks ago our son came home and told my wife and me batsu about things we were doing. Everything is batsu. I will do the dishes now, I say. No, he will answer, that is batsu, we play now. I say that we will take a shower now. That is batsu, is the answer, before saying that we will shower tomorrow.

Batsu batsu everytime. With his arms crossed in front of him. Batsu is marked by a cross. If something is forbidden to do, it is marked with a cross-sign and it is read batsu. And my son sees batsu everywhere. The crossed steel beams at the train station is a batsu sign to him. When he puts his fork and spoon in a cross on his plate, he tells me that it means batsu. When we walk home from the Kindergarten bus, he informs me of the batsu sign on the road, pointing at two withered straws lying there. And when we are out driving, our son looks at the traffic signs and tells his mom that she cannot go to the left because it is batsu.

The opposite of batsu is maru, marked by a circle. I believe our new Kindergarten is a more maru place than the old one. I also try to do as much maru-focus as possible at home, although it is difficult sometimes with a toddler who wants to do a lot of challenging and dangerous things. Our son has become a master of batsu. Soon I hope he will be equally skilled in including maru in his communications with his parents.

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