Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Talk That Talk

My experience living in Hawai'i has been eye-opening for many reasons, one being the exposure I have gained to the Hawaiian language.  While I am familiar with many words and word parts that make up the language, my understanding is not yet to the point where I can decipher sentences or comprehend when it's spoken.  Still, I recognize Hawaiian language as one that is rich with meaning  and subtleties  and compelling in the depth of its overall representation.

As has been the case historically for many people in cultures around the world, Hawaiian people were banned from speaking their native language once outsiders invaded and imposed their customs and attributes, including the English language.  This imposition was strongly enforced in schools and governmental affairs. This year, though, Hawaiians gained a victory on this front.

A judge recently ruled that a translator will be provided for anyone who chooses to speak Hawaiian in court even if the speaker is also fluent in English.  See, what's been happening outside of the legal venue is a resurgence of and attempt to preserve this gem of a language. It's been taught in schools, promoted in children's books, and accessed regularly by natives and non-natives alike.  Babies speak it as well as adults who learned early and continued the legacy. Despite efforts to suppress it, Hawaiian is alive and growing stronger. It's proliferation is inevitable.  So, when a professor from The University of Hawaii Maui College was issued a bench warrant for choosing  to address the judge and identify himself speaking only his native language, a movement was born. (Although the defendant was standing right there in court, the judge essentially dismissed his presence.) The judge's annoyance revolved around his own lack of knowledge of the language as well as the fact that the man standing before him was indeed fluent in English. 
During the process of writing this post, I learned that February is Hawaiian Language Month.

Protests ensued following the confrontation, and when it was all said and done, the court had relented.  After all, Hawaiian is one of the state's official languages. Now money will be found to pay translators for anyone who chooses to speak Hawaiian during a legal preceding, even if they are perfectly capable of speaking English.

Of course, people are mad as will always be the case, cause, well conformity.  Some feel that Hawaiians should just fall in line, speak English like everybody else. The basic nature of such a premise makes it hard for me to address or pay much attention to.  As far as I'm concerned, this is a substantial win for Hawaiians and  perpetuation of culture that's been at potential risk of being lost.  I personally find it hard to be mad at that. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

One by One

My plan is to homeschool--formally, when the girls reach "kindergarten age" I mean, since learning is already a constant in our home just as it is in many other homes. Given who my oldest is shaping up to be, I'm pretty confident that homeschooling--in our current context--will be the option that allows her to excel the most, and I can see the youngest being very similar in nature. 

While we do attend and have attended a few toddler-focused community programs where parents stay and participate with their children, my three-year-old hasn't been to any sort of day care center or school.   Recently, though, we visited a local preschool, as I was considering enrolling her in one for the upcoming school year to give her a chance to run around with others in her age group and do whatever else is done in such a facility. I mean, I'm not crazy about it (neither is she), but it's something we were looking at. 

Well, the school we visited was great. There's plenty to keep children occupied and learning-- toys, a writing station, outdoor painting, play dough, reading area, drama, puzzles, blocks, building materials, and plenty more. The classroom has an easily accessible restroom and low sinks, the playground is safe and contained, and the overall environment is suitable for the little bodies that occupy it for 5-8 hours a day.  There are three kumu (teachers) in a class of twenty, emphasis on a second language (Hawaiian), eight field trips a year, and students take their own food (which works great for people who are funny about what their babies eat, like me). Beautiful landscape, with mountains all around, etc.

Much about the experience was positive.

So, from the time I left up until this point in which I'm writing these words, I've been trying to figure out why I'm so irked by it!  I mean, something about the entire situation was really working me internally.

Granted, several of the present preschoolers' fascination with my baby's hair translated into their little hands being all in her head at any given point during the 20 minutes we were there, the director's perfume was bothersome, and the space felt tight. Still, as far as preschools go, it's likely one of the best in the area in terms of its offerings. There's no legitimate reason why it should have been getting on my nerves the longer I stood there making sporadic conversation with the teachers while my (suddenly shy and mute) child entertained herself on one side of the room by messing around in a play kitchen.

Sliding at a park after the school visit.

The more and more I sit with this I realize that for all that the preschool is good for, there's a reason why I'm considering an alternative approach to education.  Seeing my child in that setting made it clear to me that it's not the right environment for her.  Having had her with me nearly every minute of her short life since birth, this is something I can feel and know rather than verbalize.   So, while I would certainly recommend that particular preschool, I know for sure that we will have to pass on it and keep moving forward with what we've been doing.

This experience inspired me to read a book that I randomly discovered on our book shelf one day.  (Free or cheap books from the library will have any book lover hoarding books they don't even know they own.)

 There's probably much to be learned from the ways in which young children are related to in different cultures when it comes to schooling.  I'm only a few pages into the first chapter but can tell this will be a true eye-opener. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Like It Is

Loquacity and keen observation are trademark characteristics of my three-year-old.  As such, it took me less than half a second to know what the concluding adjective of her sentence was going to be one time when she started out saying:

" Mommy, that lady is really..."

I was waiting in a relatively quiet lobby with her and my youngest as the astute child began her study.   Several people were also there waiting when a woman walked in to join us all.  My daughter, noticing the woman's larger girth, attempted to give commentary on the her size. These  efforts were temporarily obstructed by the stern "You'd better not" expression plastered across my face as I looked straight into her eyes.  Before the first sound exited her mouth even, I felt exactly what she wanted to say.  

"Mommy, that lady--"

"Shhhh," I uttered.

"But Mom, that lady--"

"Baby, just be quiet. It's not always appropriate to comment about someone's appearance.  Ok?"  I continued my attempts at silencing her.

"OK, but Mom, that lady is really big!"


Well, at least she had lowered her voice.  Kind of.

But then, as she got up to go throw away a piece of paper ( a task I had assigned as a distraction), my child tip toed across the floor, belly poked out, and commenced to imitate the woman's walk all the way to the trash can. 

"And Mom, she walks like this."


*Face palm*

Now, in no way was she making fun of or teasing the lady (thankfully she knows nothing of that behavior at this point). She wasn't grinning, being humorous, or doing any such thing during her observation and subsequent commentary.  She was merely looking and reporting.  Even still, since I recognize that it's not generally accepted as proper to remark about a person's size or appearance--outside of what's considered to be aesthetically appealing or desirable anyway--I felt compelled to prevent my child from even just stating what she had simply witnessed with her eyes: the woman who had come into the lobby was big in size and had a tip toey way of walking.  That in itself is not loaded, yet to just have it spoken out loud could cause the woman as well as others present in the room to feel uncomfortable.  My sensibilities wanted to prevent that from happening.  It turned out fine, though, as no one was really able to hear her or catch on to what her impersonating gait represented on the way to the trashcan.  (It likely would have been fine even if they had, but still.) 

(We've started jokingly calling her "Pressha" (Pressure), since she will have people under so much pressure with her high energy,  hundred questions, and general love of talking.  When I wrote THIS blog post two years ago, I had no clue what was ahead.)

And because I'm working to build her up for that time when she learns through experience via a force outside of my control that there is such a thing as bullying, teasing, or saying unkind things about how someone may look, I'm preparing her with some "pre-installed apps" that give her access to an internal database of affirmations that build rather than destroy.  Because she's able to tap into this and sees it as a norm even at the young age of three, after walking back from the trash can to her seat that day in a lobby, she added:

"And Mom, she looks so nice today!"

Hopefully we're heading toward some beautiful ways of being.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Beat Goes On

Now. I won't deny that I likely suffered from some form of slight post (pre??) traumatic stress disorder up to 24 hours after the incident, however, I will say that there was hardly chaotic pandemonium all around, as has been reported by many news resources. Actually, things were pretty calm in the building where I reside even after a mass text message went out statewide in Hawai'i (falsely) warning  residents of an impending ballistic missile.

It actually felt like a hoax, a hack even, and--without panic--the three things that ran through my mind simultaneously once I was notified of the message were:

1.  Why aren't the sirens going off?  I'm pretty up on local  processes and know that the outdoor siren warning system that is annoyingly tested on a monthly basis without fail should be sounding off in the event of a tsunami, hurricane, missile strike threat, etc. (Note: I later learned that the sirens did sound off on some parts of the island.)

2. Huh??? My husband is continually tuned in to national news (which I often hear by default and which we laugh about and discuss frequently) and last I knew, Trump 'nem were busy offending Africans and Haitians, not having another war of egos with Kim 'nem. This seems so all-of-a-sudden.

3. Where is said missile coming from? Are people just randomly shooting missiles? Or am I just to assume North Korea is the culprit?

And finally:

4.  Is there any knowledge of whether it's headed for O'ahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island, Moloka Lanai, Niihau, or Kahoolawe--the seven main islands that make up the state of Hawai'i?

Yes, all of that was instantaneously on my mind in that moment.
Nevertheless, a querying mind is no match for an indication of a missile strike, so we took what precautions we could given the situation.

I waited in silence with the ones I love and pondered how--if the building collapsed--I would manage to push the rubble off the babies and myself.  Call me naïve, but I saw us all surviving no matter how it all went down.  My concern was moving cement blocks, which I somehow thought wouldn't crush us, even as the floors above came tumbling down!

Things were pretty much back to normal in the hours following statewide confusion.  Beach time with the babies, my two and a neighbor. 

To say the very, VERY least, thank goodness it was not real. In reality, though, we've got water stored away and have read up on sheltering ourselves from radioactive fallout. (There's also a "Get Off O'ahu" plan in the works). I certainly don't expect a missile of any kind to strike this island, and I won't live in a state of worry.  There's plenty of speculation about whether something like that would or wouldn't happen. In today's political climate, I'm just sure to keep my ears open and keep keeping on.

It's very Hawai'i for it to take 38 minutes for a correction text to be sent out.--Jimmy Kimmel.  

So, so true. The kicked back vibes here can be a bit much at times. Nonetheless, the Aloha is palpable.

Photo taken by her big sister.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Home Training

I've heard this a lot in my lifetime. Home training--either somebody not having it, somebody needing it, or somebody having it but acting like they don't.

Chances are that this is a cultural thing or a southern thing--the pervasiveness of the terminology in speech, I mean. Whatever the case, it was on my mind recently.  Although "home" is an important word here,  the assumption--I assume--is that said training should carry over and be effective no matter where the trainee finds her/himself.  If so, I have to wonder how does one effectively impart home training, particularly with a highly energetic child who is committed to simply taking advantage of the freedom of her unburdened limbs every chance she gets?  Cause despite my consistent efforts to do so, my three-year-old still has no qualms about climbing up/over/under/through trees, walls, benches, chairs, and rails in public places.  Anyone witnessing her level of activity might surely assume her father and I have made no effort to instill in her more suitable ways to be when out and about.
Such was the case recently when our family took a rare trip across the island to the town of Kailua. 

Highway taken to and from Kailua through the mountains.  Some of the most amazing views, for sure!  (Photo courtesy of http://www.theworldgeography.com/2013/03/drives-above-forest.html)

Having finished eating her food at a store we visited, my child commenced to climbing back and forth from the bench we were sitting on outside the store onto the (empty) bench behind us. At one point, as she straddled the top of the back of our seat, I looked at her and for a split second thought, explicitly,  "This child ain't got no home training."

I know better though.  She does, too. Yet, there's something about her absolute nature that forces me to re-train myself in how I'm bound to relate to her during these times.   Given who she is, I'm learning that there are moments when she needs the freedom to just be her wild, free self--within the confines of safety, of course--no matter how it might look, seem, or actually be.

Once, as I stood in line at the bank and my child wiggled and moved all over the place and attempted to swing from the deposit slip table, an elder behind me--sensing my uneasiness and hearing my fuss-- told me, "She's OK. As long as she doesn't climb or fall and hurt herself, she's OK." And with that, I just kept my eye on her and let her be.  After all, when you name a child Wangari, which translates to "of the leopards," you can't lose too much patience when she continually displays inherent acrobatic tendencies no matter where the mood strikes her.  Plus, with the high level of activity I was engaged in myself while she was in the womb (diving, swimming, hiking, climbing, etc),  I feel like we set ourselves up for this one!

   Tree climbing outside the doctor's office after an appointment.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fair Warning

Once when I was seventeen, my grandmother--in an effort to thwart any notion I may have had to have a child before I probably needed to (and trust me when I say I had no such notion)--described for me the level of change that takes place in people's lives once children do enter the picture. More specifically, she commented on the change in the quality of one's mobility. 

"When you don't have a child," she said, "you just have to worry about getting yourself ready. You get yourself dressed, grab what you need, and go."

She continued, "But when you do have a child, Honey, you got to get yourself and that child ready. Then you got to make sure you have everything the baby might need while you're out. Get the diaper bag together, get that baby, and then go.  A lot more work in general goes into it all when you have a baby!"

Here I am eighteen years later as a mother, and let me just say,  she was absolutely correct. In fact, since she'd had six children of her own, she could have emphasized the point by telling me what it's like when you have at least two! Most days when it comes to leaving the house to go somewhere, it's in my best interest to start getting us ready at least two hours in advance, since it never really goes smoothly. Even still, all that pre-planning and pre-doing might find me fumbling, dropping, and forgetting things when the actual time comes to head out the door. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who have 3/4/5/6 little ones.

At this point I don't really recall what it was like to be responsible for getting only myself ready to leave the house. Although my children are only three and one*, that seems like so, so long ago.  Many of the moms I socialize with have only one child, and they ask me how I do it with two. Well, honestly, there are plenty of moments where I'm not sure whether I'm coming or going, and when I'm going, it surely has the potential to be a hectic mess!

*My youngest is a year old today!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Easy Play

...cause what's more fun than riding your tricycle through a puddle and making lines on the asphalt?
(Also good for an impromptu lesson in math and counting!)
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