Encountering “the Beginning of a Person”


After the period of refraining from going to the childcare center from April due to Covid 19, I would like to write about the change in my own view of children that occurred from around June after spending mixed days beyond the boundaries of classes and homeroom adults.


私の子ども観の大きな変化は今までの人生のなかで二度あります。一度目変化が起きたのはは私がまだ大学生の頃の話。大学の授業で、保育園や幼稚園の先生が来校し、講義をしてくださった際にその先生が子どもたちのことを”彼ら”や”その人たち”と呼ぶことがありました。今となってはその呼び方に違和感も戸惑いもありませんが、当時、子どもとは大人が守ってあげる存在で、自分とは異なる存在だと捉えていた私にとって、子どもを “子ども”と言わず、大人と対等な関係を結ぶものとして”彼ら”という呼び方が使われることに違和感を感じていました。


There have been two major changes in my outlook on children in my life. The first change happened when I was still a college student. In university classes, when a nursery school or kindergarten teacher came to school and gave a lecture, the teacher often referred the children as “karera”(“they/them”, a pronoun often used to describe adults.)  Nowadays, there is no sense of discomfort or confusion in the name, but at that time, my views were: children were protected by adults. I felt uncomfortable with the use of the term “they” to establish an equal relationship with adults.

However, after that, as I lived with the children at Yamanoko Childcare Center, that feeling changed. Just as I hand something to my children, they teach me something and make me aware of it. After I realized that they were a peer living here like me, I didn’t feel any discomfort when I heard the names “they” and “them”, which represent an equal relationship with me. This was my first change in my outlook on children.


Then, in the days when 0 year olds, and 1 and 2 year olds lived altogether, mainly the relationship with 0 year olds changed, and the second change in the view of children occurred. Before April, I was involved with 0 year olds for a short time before they left for a walk. However, during the mixed period, I became more involved with 0-year-old children, and while living together, I witnessed their exploration. I would like to introduce one episode here.



One afternoon, R-kun, who woke up early, layed down, touching toys and fluttering his limbs. Then, the hand and the foot suddenly collided, and R-kun grabbed the foot with his hand. R-kun stared at his legs asthey were. A teacher, Shizuko, who saw what happened, said, “Oh, you found your leg.”

R-kun encountered his own leg when he was moving his limbs.  The children look, touch, put in your mouth and smell. They use their five senses to confirm and meet this world. Not only for 0 year olds, but for children living in the present, what they see, hear, and touch are all new encounters. Even if the scenery looks the same, it changes little by little every day, and I can see children notice the difference. I recall that it may be because I spend more time with my 0 year olds and gradually become accustomed to observing them.




At the meeting the other day, when I heard Tomoko-san, our director, describe a 0 year old child with the word “the beginning of a person,” it felt absolutely right. Although I had never seen a 0 year old child from such a perspective, I was able to connect with and understand the sight of a 0 year old child that I had witnessed every day exploring and encountering this world. It was the moment when I changed from being a “baby” different from myself to being on the same line as myself when viewed from the axis of life.

It’s been a year and a half since I started working at Yamanoko Childcare Center and the way I think about children has changed dramatically: from “children” who must be cared for by adults to “peers” who are on an equal footing with ourselves. From “baby” to “the same person as me”.

A new 6 month old child has joined Yamanoko Home since September. Because the rhythm of life is different, children from Fuki and Warabi spend more days on their own and the time spent separating from Fuki and Warabi has increased. However, my life is different from before March. Encounters and discoveries born through mixing. While continuing to incorporate it into our lives, we will continue to explore new ways of life at Home.

Text by Neina Asano