I have mentioned, in a few other posts and a few other places, that we, uh, you know... watch videos.
We watch them for fun. Not for, um, educational purposes, other than that study after study proves what parents have known since time immemorial; kids that spend time with their families, discussing things, are more confident, inquisitive, and engaged people.
We are massive Jackie Chan fans. From his early days, to the Golden Harvest films, to Rush Hour, to him singing one of the songs in Disney's Mulan, we've never met a Jackie Chan film we didn't like. They're fun, they're funny, and they're a fabulous example of what the human body can do. We usually snuggle up on the couch together, drink tea (chinese oolong, of course), and talk about Jackie and China and martial arts and Cory Yuen's spectacular fight choreography and all that kind of stuff.
Not a teaching moment, yeah? Pure escapism and shoddy parenting, right?
A few days ago, while we were out of town visiting my in-laws, a friend of the family stopped by to visit. He's a martial arts teacher, and can't resist new pupils. So he asked Rowan, "if I grab your hands like this..." and in the blink of an eye, Rowan was out of it. "How'd you know to do that?" the friend asked, puzzled. "Jackie Chan!" Rowan announced proudly. They went on to play martial arts together, Rowan displaying an astonishingly wide knowledge of attacks, defenses, stances, and implements.
It was marvelous. While I thought we'd just been goofing off, enjoying the entertainment value of the films, Rowan was sucking down the information, processing it, storing it, and retrieving it, in a way I would never have dreamed he could. I had no idea he was studying martial arts. I thought we were, y'know, engaged in mental escapism. Interestingly, not only had Rowan internalized the basics of the moves, he'd also internalized Jackie's style. The friend is more of a wing chun, Bruce Lee kind of guy, while Rowan had that lighthearted "Drunken Master" kind of motion going on, and it suited him nicely.
It was an excellent wake-up for me, that they really are learning constantly, and that there really isn't any way to "just" do anything. There's always another dynamic, learning happening on some level.
But I'm really, really nervous about letting him watch Spiderman now.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason, her sons Rowan and Kestrel, and her daughter Aurora. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.