Wednesday, March 19, 2008

That Little Guy Can Read!

Benjamin and I had a great weekend in London. I thought he would hit it off with my friend's two boys - one who is just a few months older, and one who is about 9 months younger - and I was right. Benjamin fit right in, and had a blast playing with the guys. They were in to Star Wars (Benjamin's current favorite), Dr. Who (totally clueless - both of us), robots and transformers. Benjamin was awash in a sea of boy toys that he had never seen before, and he, typically, managed to ignore most of them and use the cat toys to build a play area for their kitten. London, for him, wasn't so impressive, though I did try to point out a few highlights.

The one thing he did notice was that Alec, who's name Benjamin could never remember, and who is 9 months younger, could already read. Not only could he read, but he could also do two-digit addition and subtraction. Sometimes the differences in the school systems really stand out, and it is hard to imagine my bright children being so far behind their peers in other countries. But I will take comfort in the fact that the Swedish teenagers and adults that I meet are literate, eloquent, and intelligent, and show no evidence that their schooling started a year (or two, or three) behind their peers.

Back to the sightseeing - we went to the London Transport Museum which was perfect for three 6-7 year olds. They had a punch card that you could punch at different stations. The boys took one card between them, and it then became a team effort to collect all the punches. Luca would put all his weight in to making the punch work, hanging from it and pulling it with all his might, while Benjamin and Alec held the card steady. I don't think they understood too much about the history of transport in London, or even why it was such a big deal, but they loved climbing on the various old busses and trains.

The next day, it was giant whales and dinosaurs with his godmother and godfather roped into duty. He loved seeing the T-Rex and the creepy crawlies, and was fascinated by the various animal exhibits, especially the manatees (thanks to a recent video). The crowds (a free museum on a cold and rainy day in London) were a bit hard to take -it took three adults to keep track of Benjamin, and navigating the gift shop with two godparents trying to get him something was a bit of a challenge.

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