Yesterday I was taking my son, Kazu, home from school on the bus. While we sat there, it was raining outside and the window had steamed up. Kazu drew smiley faces with his finger in the steam.
"In Japan when I drew on the window my teacher told me never to do it again," he said. He knew that in New York, the rules are different than in Japan, so he kept writing. He wrote his name in English, and then he wrote it in Kanji, the characters in Japanese.
"You can write Chinese?" A boy standing next to us asked. He looked to be about ten years old and Chinese American. "It's Chinese characters, but he's writing in Japanese," I explained. Much of the Japanese writing system was taken from China.
The boy wrote the Chinese character for "tree" on the window, and Kazu said, "Tree!" Then Kazu wrote the character for water and the boy named it. For the next few stops, Kazu and the other boy compared calligraphy on the window while the moving scenes of the New York streets showed through their brushstrokes. People on the bus watched and chatted with each other in Spanish and English.
The boy said goodbye at his stop and waved to us as the bus pulled away. It was a nice New York moment.