Living with a 12-year-old girl for a week has been interesting. We don't know this girl (I'll call her A) all that well. We've been friends with her father for a few years now, but since we met A when she was 7 or 8 years old, we've seen her a couple of times a year and she's obviously grown a lot since when we first met her. As a result, keeping tabs on all of her interests has been practically impossible.
Thus, before she came here we asked her father if there was anything in particular she'd like to do or see here in Japan (her first solo trip overseas - or anywhere for that matter). He said no and she seemed to reinforce that while here. Every time we'd ask where she'd like to go, she couldn't tell us, so I quickly resorted to offering choices - two to keep it simple. But even when I followed her lead, taking her shopping on Friday in a place with many accessories and jewelry etc. (based on observing her stop at every accessory store in Doutonbori when we took her shopping earlier in the week) we discovered she doesn't wear earrings, doesn't like flowers or girlie things, and basically did a 180 on the whole thing. Ooookay.
To be fair, she's been incredibly polite and well-behaved and is able to entertain herself for large blocks of time, it's the "we are showing you around Japan" times that have been challenging. I just keep thinking of how lucky she is to have such an amazing opportunity and how thrilled I would have been to be in her shoes at that age. Of course I've always been a kind of history and museum geek girl meaning the opportunity to visit multiple castles, temples and shrines here in Japan would have been much to my liking. For A, this isn't the case. Nor does she really seem interested in the artwork, manga, or entertainment sides of Japan like many American kids I know. Living on a farm that grows lots of vegetables has also been of zero interest to her - she doesn't like vegetables. So we're still not quite sure why A wanted to come here but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that her father REALLY wanted her to come and the poor kid is desperate to please her dad.
The upside to all of this, is that it gives us a sense of the complex and seemingly mercurial personalities that pre-teen girls can display. A possible glimpse into our future 11 years from now? The downside is that I'm exhausted from trying to entertain her for a week, and we've still got all day tomorrow to get through! But we've got a plan and soon enough she'll be on her way back to the U.S.