Reflections on art, fitness, family, politics and literature that hit me like bricks as I chauffeur my children from place to place...
A pink taxi
August 16, 2010
I am the one who came up with "intuitive learning" when I described my youngest son to his teacher. She couldn't agree more with me. Perhaps I came up with the expression by contrast with my other children. I just want to explain that I don't compare my children to one another. I look at them case by case. Do you all remember Sleeping Beauty? The story of the twelve fairies that came to her pram and granted her qualities? Well, the birth of my son had something magical to it as well. It was only 4 years ago. His name, Mirwais, predates his birth. Yes, I was reading Le Monde when I found the name of a DJ that Madonna, my all time favorite singer, discovered and worked with, was Mirwais. He is Afghan-French. I ran to the record store with the spelled name MIRWAIS in my pocket, came back with a fluorescent pink CD and instantly loved his electro synthesized music. My husband and I decided that this otherwise princely Afghan name would be suitable for a second son. We only had one child at the time. Our daughter came along in Nov 2004 and then came August 16, 2006. We have never known the sex of the child before its birth. Consequently, we have always set names of both sexes aside. This birth was an easy one. Labor didn't last 48h like it did for the first child, nor was it a C section like it was for the second child. Minutes before the "it's a boy!", minutes before I set my eyes on his cute face and sighed "glad it's a boy, a girl couldn't have that physique", my closest friend smsed me (no blackberry in those days): "push, push, it's Madonna's (50th) birthday!" My son was born on the birthday of my teenage idol and he was named Mirwais after her DJ. Like Sleeping Beauty, it seemed that the stars had gifted him with the sense of Music. Parents can grow with pre-suppositions and unconsciously push a child into a direction or another because of their gender, physique, personality, or because of the parents' own ambitions. We make sure not to fall into that trap. We have not exposed Mirwais to more music than we have his siblings. In fact, it is his older brother who took on the violin at the ripe age of 18 months. The reason I didn't do the same with Mirwais, who doesn't play an instrument yet, is circumstantial (no Polish teacher followed by a Jewish teacher with that methodology in Dubai). Now that he is 4, I believe it's too early for HIM to play the violin because he is more intuitive than structured and he won't have the necessary concentration level to play the violin like his siblings do. Mirwais has a musical ear. He perceives sound, rather than hears it. He recognizes tunes despite the brouhaha of daily life. In a shop, his ears are tuned on the background music and as small as he was, he always pointed to his ear with his finger, gesturing me to recognize the tune as well. At present, when he sees the painting of Liberte Menant Le Peuple by Delacroix he begins to sing: "I used to rule the world!" by Cold Play. The flip of the coin is that my youngest has never had the occasion of sitting through a session of anything without his mind wandering. Cartoons are only visuals that he catches a glimpse of, as he runs around the house (he never walks, always runs). He has a high metabolism and that also translates into fleeting attention. Teachers tell me he is incapable of sitting for long. During the FIFA, besides the symbolism of the blue French team, all he would do is imitate the sound of the vuvuzelas. And so I link his music and hearing to his language skills. When I moved him from the Arabic to the French system this year, I asked his teacher about his French. I couldn't judge it because I have chosen to communicate with him in Arabic only. The teacher could complain about his dexterity with scisors and some other motor skills like holding a pen properly; also Mirwais did question her authority too often, but his French, to my surprise, was very decent, very satisfactory. Which brings me to an educational note. I have always been a proponent of the syllabic method of teaching. Daniel et Valerie in French. Sesame street in English ie po pota potato! I have done syllabic with my first child, mixed with my second and will only do global with my third. He will recognize words as he sees them in a single glimpse. (Later this will help with speed reading too). From early on, Mirwais identified emblems like Carrefour and Starbucks (with me it's evident!) but later he read panini no matter which context. Just recently he saw TPG (transport public genevois) and he read it out loud as HA-FI-LA ( bus in Arabic) for him. A last thing to point out to is that Mirwais is fond of symbols. He loves numbers. He has adopted the number 11. He asks me to tear it out of my Le Monde and holds it in his little fist. He sees it in every book I read to him. I think he was made for Mandarin which are all characters. He may even have the ear for it. I write this as an academic view point, not as a boastful mother. Certainly other mothers will identify the same intuitive sense in their kid(s) or adults in themselves. I romanticized it with anecdotes that couldn't be missed on Mirwais' 4th Birthday.
The pink taxi runs from 7 am to 7pm. It picks and drops off my 3 kids at school, ballet,judo, aikido, violin, climbing, riding, squash, basketball, skiing, skating, swim team, friends, grandparents and teachers. The car, not pink, but a black SUV, drives to Carrefour and Coop. To Club stretch for pilates and Aviation club for weekly workouts. It is driven by a woman who navigates on the radio, gets DJed by her 4 year old or sometimes quietly reflects. The thoughts are about politics, family, humor, literature, art or fitness. Sometimes they are excruciatingly longwinded, other times they are gossipy and hot.
I hope you will all enjoy!