Friday, November 4, 2011

Hindi and Portuguese and Mandarin, Please?

I've never been a huge fan of kids music. Sure, I enjoy the average sing-a-long with a group of little kids as well as a good campfire song, but when it comes to listening to music in the car? Nope. There were certainly things I was willing to give up when I became a parent but singing at the top of my lungs and car dancing were not on that list.  Happily, it seems my child may have inherited this deep joy of personal abandon in the car.  It seems that as long as I play a song that has electric guitar and a sweet drum beat, we are all set. He even requests songs with electric guitar solos which means we get to listen to plenty of 80's music while he air guitars it in the back seat. Yes.

This week, we have moved into a new genre of music.  Those who know me probably know that I love to listen to music written in different languages. I have tried in vain for several years to convince my child that listening to music he cannot understand is, in fact, very interesting, but until now he didn't buy it.  Then Chris Tomlin put out a version of a song we've known for years that has different verses being sung in Hindi, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, Zulu, Afrikaans, Mandarin, Russian and English.  Now, I instantly loved this song and put it on when we got in the car this week. It starts in English, so Josh didn't automatically ask me to change it to an English song. And then he kept listening.

If you haven't heard it, here it is.
How Great is Our God World Edition

Just a few days later, the only song we have listened to in the car is this song. Over and over. And our interchanges have sounded like this.

Josh: "Mom, what language is that?"
Me: "Um, I think Russian?"
Josh: "From Russia?"
Me: "Yup."
Josh: "Mom, what language is that?"
Me: "Um, I think Mandarin."
Josh: "Where do they speak that?"
Me: "China."
Josh: "Ok, so now I want to learn Hindi and Portuguese and Mandarin, please. I like that one, too."

Seriously, I am wondering if this kid is going to be some kind of polyglot, he's so interested.  The obsession with the song tops off a month during which we have been disallowed to read books with our own boring mid-atlantic accents but have been pleaded with at rest and bedtime to "please read that in a French accent" or "how about a Brooklyn accent today, mom?"  My child has never been particularly visual, but what he lacks in that, he more than makes up for in his auditory interests. We cannot now go into any store without him asking me several times where different people are from when he hears them speak.  Sometimes rather loudly. I am thankful he is still so darn cute or people might misconstrue what he's asking.

As for me, I love that he's so interested.  We came home the other day and I convinced him to listen to a song in Cherokee after which we ended up having a really lengthy discussion about the migrations of people over thousands of years, who Native Americans are and a somewhat awkward conversation about what happened to them when people who look like our family came to America.  No one wants to teach a 5 year old the word "genocide", so we'll save that particular lesson for a little bit later. 

I don't often give out parental advice in this blog, but listening to these songs has opened up a world of discussions for us. Discussions on race, ethnicity, language, culture, geography and who God is in the midst of all of those things. It's been pretty sweet.  I have delighted in seeing him truly start to learn to appreciate the beauty of different languages and am excited to see the way this continues to play out. He cannot wait to begin to learn to speak some of them. 

For his sake, I hope he has more natural talent in learning languages than either of his parents.

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