JOK Notebook

The Children's Hour

For months yoga has been about pregnancy. Since May I've been watching my teacher's belly expand. At first, I kept staring at a tiny curve in her abdomen and wondering, "Is she? She has to be. But is she really? Maybe I'm imagining things." There isn't a lot to think about when you're in a long, difficult pose, and my eyes always seemed to gravitate to the gravida! What a relief when she finally announced her pregnancy, and I could find some other way for my mind to wander during class. 

Lately, it seems that every time I go to yoga (on Tuesdays and Thursdays), I see not only her sizable abdomen but also those of at least two other pregnant women. The composition of the class always changes, and I rarely see the same pregnant woman twice. And though it's not a prenatal class—not in the least—there's a constant supply of expectant women, which is odd in a group of about 15 students. 

This week the postpartum owner showed up (taking a rare break from time with her newborn) and commiserated with a student about how horrid it is to have one's hair fall out in clumps after giving birth.

I began to wonder if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and come to a maternity ward instead of a yoga studio.

On top of that, my graphic designer Tiara just gave birth to a lovely girl named Yuna, which is why we've been on a brief hiatus with essay publication (though production should resume next week if Tiara is feeling up to it). 

And that's not all! When I described my bodily woes to a massage therapist last weekend, he groaned and said, "Oh, you're bringing up really uncomfortable memories of when I had a uterus in a past life."

With this bright spotlight on the "child's palace" (子宮, しきゅう: uterus, child + palace), or "the baby's room," as my Chinese acupuncturist says, let's do a quiz about kids. I'll uniformly define 子 and 童 as "child" in the breakdowns, though this may change in a bit:

1. 骨子 (こっし) bones + child     a. interest
2. 利子 (りし) profit + child b. gene
3. 遺伝子 (いでんし) to leave behind + to transmit + child  c. naivete   
4. 童心 (どうしん) child + mind d. main point

To block the answer, here's a photo of Yuna. She's already proving most helpful!

Photo Credit: Tiara Marina

1.d. 骨子 (こっし: bones + suffix for an abstraction) means "main point," as well as "substance" and "gist." As you can see from the breakdown here, this 子 serves as a "suffix for an abstraction," says Halpern. According to one site, the 骨 in 骨子 represents the "bones" of something, which is to say its "framework" or "skeleton." Kojien indicates that 骨子 originally meant "bones" before acquiring these figurative meanings.

2.a. 利子 (りし: interest + interest) means "interest (on money)." Interest is the offspring of money, says Halpern, who defines both 利 and 子 as "interest" in this context. 

3.b. 遺伝子 (いでんし: to leave behind + to transmit + small entity) means "gene." The first two kanji combine to mean "heredity." And Halpern defines this 子 as "small entity." 

4.c. 童心 (どうしん: child + mind) means "naivete," as well as "child's mind."

Did you notice that 子 did not mean "child" in any of the three quiz words that contained it?! The moral of the story is that if you're looking for a child, you might have more luck with 童 than with 子. Or just come to my yoga class!

Postscript: After writing this, I went to watch TV for awhile. In a relatively short time I saw an ad for the movie Knocked Up, then an episode of Friends in which Rachel and Ross argue over baby names.


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