This story began two years back, when Iva’s work was included in a prefecture-wide children’s art exhibit.

Iva, with her shoujou and artwork

Of course, the entire family was in full support of Iva’s tremendous feat, wherein only about two students from every kindergarten in the whole of Saitama got to be selected.

But, as Iva was about to get her shoujou (certificate of recognition) – and we were too focused on capturing the moment through our phones – we did not notice Uri line up behind her sister at the honorees’ red carpet. And so, after the announcement and Iva’s receipt of her certificate and some art prizes, to our surprise, was Uri getting ready to step up the podium.

The presenter of organizer Kokusai Gakuin (KG) Saitama College, who was handing out the certificates, was gracious in dealing with the little boy’s gaffe. “Maybe next time,” Iva conveyed to her little brother, in case Uri had missed the Nihongo. As if he had suddenly been doused with freezing water, the little boy ran towards Mommy and buried his face deep in her chest, that we couldn’t get a decent picture with him at the venue after that, no matter how hard we had tried.

Deeply humiliated, Uri literally lost face that day.

Fast forward to 2019

What are the odds that, when his time came, Uri would also have his work chosen for the same exhibit? But, yes, it would be exactly like what had happened with his sister. Maybe, we got artists for kids.

After the joyous congratulations, I sought to pick up bits of what he remembered of the art exhibit. He remembered Omiya station, where the KG school was; the art exhibit and Iva’s work; the recognition room, where had his blunder; his subsequent and literal cover-up; the whole nine yards. “So, how do you feel now?” was all I could ask after his lengthy recollection, to which he answered a simple “Happy,” in his trademark smirk.

Uri had put it ever so lightly, but his excitement was undeniable.

And so, the day came when we returned to KG for Uri’s art exhibit, and the redo of his awarding ceremony, this time, as a bona fide honoree.

The little boy was in full attention, savoring the moment the shoujou was being read out. Then, he gave the presenter a snappy bow and thereafter received his shoujou and prizes.

The “maybe next time” now becoming a reality, as Uri receives his award

Uri wore his radiance the entire day. Pictures were not a problem with him either; he wore the same happy confident face no matter how many we asked from him. That night, he would not play with any toys, just his shoujou and new art stuff.

Uri, happily posing for photos at the gallery
A remake of the family picture
Uri closely examining his certificate 

“Uri, I’ll put away the shoujou for keeping, okay?” Mommy said when it was almost time for dinner.

“Wait, Mommy,” Uri insisted.

He got a pencil, and on the envelope of the shoujou he wrote: “Omedetou. Ganbatta ne!” Satisfied, he finally let it go for Mommy’s safekeeping.

Truly, Uri, this story ended with a resounding bang. “Congratulations. You did great!”