A pink taxi

A pink taxi

August 16, 2010

Intuitive Learning

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.


  1. That is definitely one of your best blogs, what a beautiful portrayal of Mirwais. I can see him running around your living room on his tip toes. Mashallah 3aleyh. We love him dearly. Happy Birthday Mirwais or as he would expect in classical Arabic eid sa3eed ya Mirwais.

  2. I have to agree with Katia. This is one of your top entries! You desbribed Mirwais perfectly. It's as if we traveled in his mind. Mirwais sprung to life through your words. You should encourage his imagination and his love of sounds. Let his mind and ears run free. Happy Birthday Mirwais! I love you alot.

  3. Happy Birthday Mirwais! I can't believe you are already 4!



  4. As the music blares around the pool,and amidst the chaos raised by his cousins,MW jumps as his favorite song comes up.He sneers wickedly and looks at you with an impish face,that we all recognized the tune.As I drive the highway on the way to San Remo,MW with his eye patch(used to correct his sight),reminds to put on the radio,by saying the Arabic word:"muthiqa".
    His second virtue or should I call it his mother's eccentricity is speaking in the Arabic Fusha.Compare that to a Western child speaking Latin!He questions the fact that apart from his mother who talks to him in her broken fuha,I am the only one who answers clearly his constant "limaza" or WHY in Arabic.his inquisitive character is in all languages,but it is the most cute in Arabic..He shocks Arabs in the malls od Dubai,and confuses the levantines ho don't understand his correct language as compared to their colloquial Arabic peppered with English and French.
    To you Miro,I send my hugs and wishes for a promising future.

  5. Mirwais is special in so many ways. He is the youngest in your family (and unless you surprise us with another one!!, he embraces that position well. While his older brother and sister argue and tease each other and make up and argue all over again, Mirwais sits and observes, not getting involved in the chaos. Instead, he manages to get along with both, very rarely getting into an argument with either.
    This shows how smart he is and perhaps indicates a penchant for diplomacy, which he could practice later on in life, while he moonlights by night as a DJ in clubs.

    He and Tarek were like twins this summer, practically the same height, sharing the same clothes (although Tarek can wear Mirwais' hand me downs), and studying with Mme Blogger doing summer bridge activity books together, with the enthusiasm only preschoolers can gather. I made sure not to call it homework but rather games, because they hadn't been tainted yet by the pain of homework!

    He is a sweet, smart and gifted little boy who has a whole universe burgeoning within him. A trendsetter with his bakugans, Tarek couldn't help but respect him for his dexterity with those Japanese magnetic creatures. For his gift of music, you need to watch the movie August Rush, which reminded me of him.

    May he have a beautiful year ahead, filled with all the joy and discoveries only a 4 year old can know. And may we celebrate many many more together with him in Roquebrune Inshallah.

    Happy Birthday Mirwais!

    Love love love
    Dai Dean, Khaleh Bouche, Tarek and Zaydo


  6. تنظيف بالاحساء افضل شركة تنظيف بالاحساء
    تنظيف شقق بالدمام تنظيف شقق بالدمام
    تنظيف شقق بالمدينة المنورة تنظيف شقق بالمدينة المنورة
    تنظيف شقق بالرياض تنظيف شقق بالرياض