I listen to a lot of National Public Radio. Or at least I used to. Now that Nels is old enough to understand the news, it's becoming inappropriate to listen to it all day. The impressive music collection that Shaun has amassed is superior in every way to anything I could listen to on the radio, but I like the spontaneity that radio provides, and the adult conversation, even if I am only listening in.
Anyhow, I was poking around at npr.org today and found many interesting things without even trying.
First, here's a story about kids' music. It features a diverse array of suggested albums, and includes a track from each. I was sure to sample these without my own kids in the room. With my luck the oddly lugubrious and mildly operatic rendition of "The Owl and the Pussycat" would be their favorite. I am relieved, however, that the boys have finally warmed to the children's music of They Might Be Giants (not mentioned in the article though worthy of mention.)
I was happy to find this story on the importance of imaginative play for a child's development, as I had caught only an intriguing bit of it on the radio. As it is my natural bent anyhow not to buy a lot of elaborate toys or "over program" my kids, it was a big relief to find that this is actually good for them. I am doing two things right! (If only two, and those out of cheapness/laziness.)
I'm sure I could do better, but I find that the imagination and creativity of my kids cannot be stifled even when they do play with "specific" toys. Willem got a tiny construction set for Christmas and Nels promptly fashioned the miniature traffic barriers into a Star Wars spaceship. The boys' plastic swords are always pirate swords, but plastic logs, real sticks, and even pencils are employed as swords as well. Willem has been wearing Nels' bicycle helmet and proclaiming himself a spaceman.
Nels' preschool offers a variety of short after-school enrichment classes: Spanish, science, tumbling, dance. I was feeling a little bad about not signing him up for any of them (my motivation for not doing so was mostly financial) but, after reading this article, I had a change of heart. Nels is a fantastic dancer...but at four years old, is a dance class really so superior to the spontaneous dance parties that break out at our house when Shaun plays something irresistible? Structured dance lessons for toddlers? Not necessarily bad, but, in our case, not necessary. Willem will bob his head and shimmy his shoulders in his high chair at dinner whenever the spirit moves him. That kid's gotta dance, lessons or no.
My final NPR pick of the day is unrelated, so, if you don't have kids, I hope you've stuck with me this far. It's a review (with possible spoilers) of Anne Rice's newest book, Road to Cana. The review contains plot details, so consider yourself warned. Both the book and the response to it promise to be provocative. I will admit that I haven't read any of Anne Rice's pre OR post-conversion books yet, but due to a favorable review of Road to Cana in First Things, I look forward to reading the Christ the Lord books and weighing in.