Monday, May 28, 2007

Five, four, three, two, one.... Luc is go!

I was chastising Luc for complaining to me that he couldn’t do something “It is too hard for me” I told him “Rubbish! It is not too hard for you” Luc responded “It is not rubbish!” I responded that yes, indeed it was. He told me “No! It is not rubbish. It is trash!” 

Luc started singing the Hokey Pokey to me “Put your wrong hand in…” I corrected him “Put your right hand in...” he laughed and continued to sing with a cheeky grin, “Put your wrong hand in, put your wrong hand out!” 

Paul and I were chatting about the movie the Exorcist. Although I haven’t seen the film, I am aware of Linda Blair’s character speaking in tongues with a strange voice. I did my best imitation of this…. and then stopped abruptly when Paul and I heard Nic, standing up in his cot doing his impression of a demonic /possessed child. We looked at him, and he just laughed. He is not interested in repeating words so much, but if a strange voice brings about a laugh…! 

Luc is crazy about rocket ships at the moment. Coupled with his love of robots and space, this has spurred an obsession with building rockets. The boys were given a set of Builders and Benders that are an excellent brick building system and are perfect for building rockets, houses, whatever is the obsession of the day. Having given up on me saying “just a moment…” when he has requested me to build things, Luc has really started using his imagination and has built some complex and inventive shapes himself. 

Paul bought a compilation DVD of the Thunderbirds TV series. This ‘supermarionation’ sci-fi puppet show has been parodied by everyone from the D-Generation and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of SouthPark fame. Luc adores the shows and has been requesting these frequently. Luc told me the other day that “Nic is scared of the man with the glowing eyes” - a ‘bad guy’ character from one of the stories.  How Nic manages to closely watch these ‘glowing eye’ sequences while Luc is in the bedroom, tentatively  peeking out from behind the bed toward the TV screen, is beyond me. 

The Thunderbirds episodes begin with a countdown of the Thunderbird spacecraft “Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Thunderbirds are go!” We have had to incorporate this counting into many routines with Luc - including counting him out of the bath.

When we were at the doctors a couple of weeks ago, Luc pointed at an occupation poster and said “OH, that is what I want to be!” I looked at the page of children dressed in occupational attire (firefighter, doctor, construction worker, teacher…) and saw his choice, an astronaut! Look out NASA! 

I am SO supportive of the cardboard box school of toy design. The most inspiring toys the boys have are their blocks, random cardboard boxes, and the things I make for them out of cardboard and construction paper. These home-made toys disintegrate approximately the same time (sometimes a little before) their usefulness has worn out… but by then, another obsession is taking root. 

We were members of a toy library in Brisbane. This was an excellent resource as we had access to a new toy on a monthly basis. We sought toys that were bulky or outdoors in nature and these were returned at the end of the month or when interest waned. Slides, pedal cars, houses, trucks…. were all things Luc was able to play with – without us having to purchase / store / dispose of.  I haven’t discovered anything similar to this in Chicago. 

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chatting and charming

We had a certain vocabulary for items we brought with us from Australia. Now we have moved to the US, we have had to use alternative names for certain items. To ensure that Luc has a grasp on the dual names for items, we play a game with him to ask him “what is another name for nappy” “diaper”, what is another name for dummy?” “pacifier”, “what is another name for  rubbish bin?” “trash can”. 

Luc played this game with me a week ago. He directed me “Ask me what another name for ‘work’ is”. “What is another name for work?” I dutifully asked. “Problem!” he responded with a big grin. I am not too sure how he arrived at this one…. Perhaps Paul mentions the ‘problems’ he has at work when he arrives home? Or perhaps it is just due to this being Luc’s word of the week. He often announces, “Mummy, I have a problem”. I then have to ask what his problem is. It is usually a problem with Paul or I going out, and him not liking the idea, or him not wanting to go for a nap. 

We were speaking recently about our favourite foods. Luc predictably states sushi and hotdogs as his favourite. I was asked what my favourite food was. I couldn’t pick one but said I liked French food. Luc thought about this for a moment and asked “Like French Toast?” I couldn’t argue with that. 

Nic charms people in the park, doing nothing other than being himself (and of course, his curls just draw people). I often hear from carers and other mothers that ‘he is just so gorgeous’. When told this the other day, I responded “Yes, but he is very naughty”. The mother responded ‘Ah, but yes, that is a good thing’. I thought about it for a bit and realised that yes, this trait, while driving me insane at times, often provides a great deal of entertainment. It also adds inordinately to Nic’s cheeky appeal and should hold him in great stead for the future – he has definite wit and personality and can already hold his own when amongst others. He is no shrinking violet – he just doesn’t give a damn and does his very own thing, life-threatening, dangerous or not. 

I spoke to my sister Jenni about Nic’s disinterest in speaking the English language. Jenni (a speech pathologist) came to the conclusion that he has absolutely no need. Luc anticipates many of Nic’s needs (as do Paul and I), and Nic creates his own fun and games and therefore has little need to use language. If Nic wants something, he doesn’t wait for us, he goes and gets it – this includes carrying around his small chair and using it to climb up anywhere. When he is hungry, this includes climbing onto the kitchen bench to reach the fruit bowl. Nic also goes through my bag as he knows I keep snacks there. Nic turned 18 months yesterday. 

Monday, May 7, 2007

Finding Inner Peace

We had such a wonderful experience yesterday. Our friends Joanne and Philip gave Paul and I tickets to see the 14th Dalai Lama with them (as a birthday present, back in March). Yesterday was the long-awaited day. We organised respective sitters for our kids and caught a cab downtown together to the Pritzker Pavilion. After standing in line for some time (thanks to Philip for finding the shortest line) and going through a security check (metal detector, physical search of all bags, no cameras allowed, etc.), we sat ourselves on the lawn and made ourselves comfortable. We ate our fantastic shared and impromptu picnic lunch, while we witnessed some traditional Tibetan dancing, singing, music and chanting. 

The Dalai Lama then came out and proceeded to chat to the audience in the most selfless, calm yet thoroughly charismatic and engaging way. The talk itself must have lasted well over 2 hours but seemed to fly – despite lying in the sun with full bellies. 

The Dalai Lama spoke of the most basic tenets for leading a peaceful existence – achievable by everyone regardless of policital / socio-economic / religious background.  He laughed that some believed he was capable of healing or had some mystic powers and reminded everyone that those in power or with a strong and influential voice were merely human. He spoke of his dealings with Mao Zedong in a disarming and personable way (I assumed he would really dislike the man!) 

The most important lessons I took away with me were: the importance of providing children with a ‘dialogue’ for life; the need to feel compassion for others; the necessity of a good nights sleep; the need to ‘physically’ remove from oneself, the anger / envy one might feel, (while appreciating these are human emotions).

                “When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. 
                  In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher” 

I had a basic understanding of the role of the Dalai Lama, but didn’t have an appreciation of the life of the current Dalai Lama and the calm manner in which he deals with what can only be an incredibly frustrating and difficult period for the Tibetan people. He deals with the vilification from the Chinese government with incredibly good grace and humour. 

The Pritzker Pavillion is a fantastic venue. The stage and seating area are under another wonderful Gehry statement piece while the lawn area has the most subtle acoustic system – in the form of suspended yet unobtrusive speakers – meaning that everyone could hear out in the open, without either straining to hear or having large speakers blaring in their ears. 

I love his philosophy towards life, his humility and calm and gentle demeanour. If asked whom I would like at my ‘ultimate dinner party’, I would have to choose the current Dalai Lama to be one of my guests. If you ever have a chance to hear this man speak, do it – he is way cool. 

Photo at top: At the moment, there is not much that comes any where close to being more exciting for Luc and Nicolas than earth moving equipment. Size does not matter.