By Alice Lapuerta
Yesterday Dominik’s Kindergarten teacher had a bit of a crisis. She approached me, her face serious. “You know what your son did today?”
Uh-oh. He probably threw a tantrum. He refused to share the Thomas train with another kid. He peed in his pants. He threw the puzzles out of the window. He, he …
“What did he do?”
“Look at this.” She whipped out a piece of paper and showed it to me.
I stared at it.
It looked like any of his gazillion pieces of artworks that he has got littered all over our house.
“Your son,” she takes a big breath, as if she still can’t believe the magnitude of what he did. “Your son – wrote KAZAKHSTAN!”
“Oh,” I reply weakly. Yep, it’s Kazakhstan. Definitely. Unmistakeably Kazakhstan. Impeccable penmanship. Better than my own.
“Awesome, right?“ I say carefully. I mean, this is nothing new for me. He writes Kazakhstan at home all the time. I could wallpaper my whole living room with Kazakhstan. And every time he writes Kazakhstan anew, he approaches me, beaming:
“Mami, look, what does this say?”
“Good JOB! You wrote …..” I crunch up my face, pretend to think for a long time, “you just wrote Ecuador?”
“NOOOOO Mami! This is Kazakhstan!”
“So it is! How stupid of me! But what a GOOD JOB you did writing this!” It is a game we play all the time. In the meantime it’s lost its spark of novelty for me, but Dominik will insist on repeating this ritual, like three thousand and five times a day. Make that six.
Except his Kindergarten teacher can’t know that, can she?
“YOUR son knows how to write Kazakhstan. But he doesn’t color Mandalas! He refuses to do coloring sheets.” She looks confused. I feel sympathetic but also the indefinite need to defend him. It’s not like I am training him at home to write Kazakhstan for God’s sake. Write Kazakhstan correctly, or else (whiplash!)!
(And no, just in case you were wondering, we don’t watch “Borat”, either.)
No. This was how it happened: it occurred to me that in order to make truly global citizens out of my kids, they should play with multicultural toys. For example: puzzles. And instead of that perpetually drooling puppy or doe-eyed kitty puzzle, I decided to buy them a gigantic floor puzzle with the map of the world on it.
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