Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lifelong Learning With Thor

Avengers comic book
"What's that mean, Mommy?"

I'm reading our four-year-old an Avengers superhero comic book that we bought at a newsstand in Florence. It is in Italian. The text is small. When I stumble on a word, I have to figure out first if the word is an Italian one or a superhero-specific one that I don't know. I don't know a lot about superheroes.

I could write a dictionary of words I've learned from the four-year-old's children books. To think I once called myself, "almost fluent;" his books have set me straight.

"Look it up, Mommy!"

This year, we rely heavily on Google Translate and are learning new words together. A hammer is a martello. Thor's hammer, however, is called, Mjolnir.

When I teach college composition writing classes online, most of my students are busy adults going back to school while raising a family and working full-time. I always love their stories of doing homework at the kitchen table while their kids do their homework. The kids see that the parents value education and everyone studies together. What role modeling! (If you're going back to school with younger kids who need more attention, here's some helpful advice about keeping them busy while working to balance everyone's needs.)

None of this is easy. Sometimes I want to "lose" these harder books that I have trouble following in Italian (and probably would in English, too.) I'm tired at the end of the day and don't always have the energy to "work" through a kid's book.

It is scary to say, "I don't know," especially to your kids. This year I'm trying really hard to encourage our child, who is slowly learning a new language, to keep asking questions. That it is fun to learn something new and enter into new worlds, with or without Thor. 

Hopefully these lessons, along with a big one about patience, will sink in. (Yes, for both of us.)

As the Italians say, "Forza!" (strength!) to each of us as we encounter new things we might not have chosen for ourselves. I admit that I'm starting to find the superheros' powers intriguing, as well as the imaginary worlds. I wonder if or how these images might show up in a poem or two... 

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