by Sophie Walker (UK) | Jan 19, 2015 | Life, Life Lesson, Parenting, Sophie Walker, UK
I’m driving my daughters to school through a windswept city. The storm last night was long and loud and its effects are everywhere, from turned over bins to broken branches. The traffic is moving slowly.
On the radio, a presenter reads a list of bleak news headlines. Britain, with its large Muslim population, is still parsing the consequences of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France. Ahead of May’s general election, the main UK political parties are making economic promises. Two climbers have scaled a 3,000ft mountain in America without aids.
The girls yawn – tired from a night of listening to roaring gales – and ask for pop music.
“I’m trying to listen,” I say. “I’m trying to figure out what to write about today.” “What do you mean?” asks Grace, who recently turned 13.
“I have to write an article for World Moms Blog. What do you think I should write about?”
“I think you should tell them that I’m 13,” says Grace.
From the back seat Betty, who is 5, says: “I think you should write – ‘Dear World Cup – ‘ “
“Not World Cup, you idiot!” interposes Grace, who at 13 takes offence often, now. “Don’t call her an idiot,” I tell her, and steer around a large chunk of tree on the road.
To Betty I explain:
“It’s not the World Cup, darling. It’s a website for World Mums to write about their lives.”
“Oh, okay,” says Betty. “Then you should write: ‘Dear World Mums – ‘”
“It’s not a letter!” splutters Grace, who by now a really rather indignant 13-year-old.
“Go on Betty,” I say.
Betty clears her throat and gives Grace a glare, then says, “I think you should write – ‘Dear World Mums, in all of your countries, the world is not just about your countries.’”
Grace opens her mouth to protest again. I shush her.
“- it’s also about lots of planets,” Betty continues. “For example, there’s Kewpicker – “
My eyes meet Grace’s. She mouths: “Jupiter.” “ – and there’s the Moon. And – there are all the stars,” Betty ends with a flourish.
“I see,” I say. “And what do you think is out there among all those planets?”
“Well, there’s aliens, and lots of dark, and lots of rocks,” answers Betty, ticking the answers off on her fingers. “And you have to be very careful not to take your space hat off, cos then you won’t be able to breathe.”
Grace sits up, interested now.
“I used to want to be an astronaut. But then I saw that film, Gravity, and thought – no way!”
“Really? Why?” “Because it was so scary! I realised how dangerous and difficult it is!”
“Yes,” I nod. “But she – the astronaut – still succeeded, didn’t she? How did that bit make you feel?”
“Well….” Grace scrunches up her face and considers. “It was cool that she was a woman. And I suppose it made me feel like it’s worth trying really hard. And that sometimes you have to see past how frightening and difficult things can be, and just keep going.”
There’s a moment’s silence in the car. I look at Grace and smile at her and she smiles back at me, and sits back in her chair, pleased with the thought. I can see her turning it over while we drive in silence for a few moments.
Then, from Betty: “Pleeeeeeeese can we have some songs now, Mummy?”
I turn the dial and a current favourite bursts out of the speakers, all horns and funky guitars and a silly, strutting lyrics. Immediately the girls both start singing along.
When it’s finished, Betty asks: “Do you think there’s music in space?”
What profound moments have come from your fun conversations with your kids?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophie Walker of the United Kingdom.
Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons.
Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs.
Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.
by Mirjam | Oct 13, 2014 | 2014, Childhood, Cultural Differences, Family, Life Lesson, Netherlands, Uncategorized
I’ve always had trouble knowing where to fit in. I have never known which box I was supposed to climb in or which label to stick on my forehead.
I was born in Surinam, but most of my life I have lived in the Netherlands.
My parents had a strong sense of culture and raised me accordingly.
We lived in a small town in the northern part of Holland that did not have many people of color.
Needless to say, things outside of my home were very different to things inside.
In my home there were loud voices and singing, dancing and vibrant music.
Outside of the home it felt like I needed to be ashamed of my mother’s loud voice,and I tried my best not to speak too loud.
Around my family I felt at home and liked my braids and dark skin.
Outside home, old ladies would sometimes come up to me and touch my ‘strange’ hair, and make me wish my skin wasn’t making it impossible to blend in or disappear.
There was lots of loud laughter in our home. My mother would read Anansi stories and we would laugh hysterically.
Outside of the home, I could not explain to people why any story that starts with: “Dear God, can you make everyone that laughs at someone else drop dead instantly…” is going to be a really funny one.
In Surinam culture it’s very important that children learn to respect their parents and older people. You never talk back, you never raise your voice and you always look down when you are spoken to by an adult.
At school the teacher would say: Look at me when I talk to you!
At home my parents would speak to each other and family members in Sranang tongo, their native tongue. They would speak to us in a mixture of Dutch and Surinamese, we spoke to them in Dutch. With my sisters I spoke in a mixture of Dutch and Surinamese.
At school I spoke Dutch and there were so many things I could not talk about or explain because there was no word for it in Dutch.
At birthdays, we had parties with lots of family and friends coming in from everywhere, staying for dinner and sleeping over. My mother would cook lots of food, aunts would help in the kitchen and the house was filled with all of these wonderful festive smells, and we would eat until we could eat no more.
When I was invited to a party of one of my friends, we sat in a quiet circle with mostly old family members having a polite conversation and we were given a piece of cheese with a little vlag stick (it’s a Dutch thing), everyone left before dinner and there was absolutely no music.
Growing up in these two cultures thought me how to adapt. I learned how to behave and what was expected of me in each situation. And because I was such a people pleaser, by the time I was in my teens, I could blend in anywhere and everywhere. and I knew what was expected of me. I also had lots of interest in different people.
The people I called my friends were a variety of ages, colors, cultures and mixtures and I loved every one of them.
Still, I always felt different.
I’m an adult now. I married a man whose skin color is the exact opposite of mine (no matter how much sun he gets). My children are of mixed culture. Their skin color is a mixture of ours, their hair is mixed, curly but not as curly as mine, dark but not as dark as mine.
My husband sometimes plays his (terrible) Dutch songs and I sing and dance with my children to old Surinam children’s songs. When we celebrate there’s lots of family and lots of food but no music, because my husband says he can’t have a conversation with music in the background. I teach my children to respect their parents and older people, but I also teach them that it’s okay to speak up and look people in the eye.
I mostly speak Dutch, but when emotional I turn to my native tongue, although my kids hardly understand what it is that I’m talking about.
I think here. With my own family a perfect mixture of black and white, Dutch and Surinam, east and west, I fit here.
Do you have a mixture of cultures in your family? How do you adapt?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of The Netherlands.
Photo credit to the author.
Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands.
She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life.
Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home.
She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera.
Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it.
She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways.
But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself.
You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.
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by World Moms Blog | Jan 11, 2014 | 2014, Inspirational, Music, World Moms Blog, World Tour
Daria and her music speak to our mission, here, at World Moms Blog, and she has also supported our #Moms4MDGs campaign. We recently invited her friend, Lisa from The Squishable Baby, to give us the full scoop on Daria’s World Music!
Have you ever been in the car and a song comes on the radio that brings a huge smile to your face? No matter what mood you are in – good, bad or indifferent – you feel totally at peace and happy. And if you could just bottle up that song and play it over and over, you would? Have you met someone who must have a voice from Heaven? Whose beautiful voice advocates peace, tolerance and love. Someone whose voice celebrates the human experience in all its differences?
I am lucky enough to know someone like that. Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou makes children happy through her music that advocates peace, love, and multiculturalism. As a homeschooling family where art and music are at the core of our curriculum, it’s easy to see how Daria makes such an important contribution to this world. You go on her website where there are a myriad of resources for you to teach, enjoy and spend quality time with your children. I can’t think of anything better than someone whose very foundation and message is love. And she does it in a way to educate about others and celebrates everyone’s differences.
We listen to Daria’s CDs in the car all the time. The kids know the songs by heart. They are written in different languages and are about different topics but all of them have the same undertone; to love one another and to celebrate the differences (whether good or bad) that exist in each one of us. This is the message all children should be receiving in a world that screams intolerance.
It’s time to start raising a generation of children that can respect and love the differences in others; no matter the customs, religions, colors, heights, weights, etc. These are the messages in Daria’s songs. Daria has become a part of our lives and our homeschool in a big way. We use her website a lot.
When I am teaching about a subject or an area of the world, we listen to music from that area. We look at art, and then we see what Daria has in store. Daria always has fun crafts, coloring pages and special songs available on her website. It’s there and free for everyone. The items on Daria’s website are so fun and enriching for children … and adults. I learn just as much from Daria as the kids do. The most important thing is that we do everything together. It‘s a way of bringing our family together.
Here are examples of crafts we made from Daria’s website. The kids had fun making and playing a Cajon and a Didgeridoo (instructions given on Daria’s Website) from Peru and Australia, respectively. The instructions were clear and also allowed for some innovation and creativity! Check out all the fun we had making and playing the instruments.
You can see the full review I wrote about Daria here.
Daria empowers children. She makes them want to be better for the world. No other music artist I know will provide children with such fantastic family-friendly upbeat music that they can dance to; and an overreaching positive message of hope and peace, while promoting and providing a well-structured, well-rounded multicultural education in the musical arts unmatched by anything else. I am so proud of Daria and everything that she has done to bring different cultures to children in all parts of the world. I am honored that she calls me a friend. — Lisa
For the last 20 years, Daria has traveled the globe sharing her music of hope, love, multiculturalism and tolerance. In the United States she has won several national awards; including, The National Association for Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA), a Parent’s Choice Award, and a Children’s Web Music Award. Her songs have been used in educational curriculum the world over, including Australia (respecting others), South Africa (teaching on tolerance) and the United States (a special song written to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
You can visit Daria on the web: Facebook Twitter Website Pinterest
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
by Eva Fannon (USA) | Aug 30, 2011 | Bilingual, Child Care, Childhood, Eva Fannon, Family, Family Travel, Husband, Kids, Motherhood, Music, Parenting, Transportation
I am sitting at a gate in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) waiting for my flight back to Seattle. You may be wondering…”How does she have time to sit and write with two girls while she is at the airport?”
If my girls were with me, I definitely would NOT be writing.
I would be mulling this post over in my head while I watched them burn off steam running over and under seats before getting on the six hour flight back home. The beauty of this story is that I got the weekend off from mommy duty to travel east 3,000 miles to go to a wedding in New York City! I know, I mean, I really do know – LUCKY ME!! (more…)
Eva Fannon is a working mom who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her hubby and two girls. She was born and raised on the east coast and followed her husband out west when he got a job offer that he couldn't refuse. Eva has always been a planner, so it took her a while to accept that no matter how much you plan and prepare, being a mom means a new and different state of "normal".
Despite the craziness on most weekday mornings (getting a family of four out the door in time for work and school is no easy task!), she wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world. She and her husband are working on introducing the girls to the things they love - travel, the great outdoors, and enjoying time with family and friends. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.
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