One of the best/worst parts about living in Riyadh is that women are not allowed to drive. It has the frustration of not being able to get things done in the timely fashion that we are all used to in the U.S. I can’t just pop over to the store to pick up milk and eggs. I can either wait until my husband is available to drive to the store (or ask him to stop by), call for motor pool (a service provided by the embassy), or walk to the corner store which takes about 15-20 minutes to get to. Add in a walk to the ATM that sometimes works, and you’ve got a solid hour walk. Please note, that one must time their trips to the store to make sure it’s not during prayer time which is when all stores close for about 30 minutes. I have not timed it right more than once!
So now that I have my little one and the weather has cooled, I have decided on walking as my preferred mode of transportation for basic food items. It has also given me the opportunity to take William outside for a good portion of time to see the trees, feel the breeze, take in the sights, etc., but I have also happened upon another benefit.
I talk to him the whole way. I carry him instead of putting him in the stroller largely because the walkways here are a bit choppy, but it has the added benefit of having him close to me while I speak. At this age (5-6 months), it doesn’t really matter what you say to them, as long as you are talking to them.
However, I took this opportunity to talk to him about his world around him, a desert. I spoke about the definition of a desert, water scarcity, soil structure, plant adaptations, animal adaptations, temperature fluctuations, sand storms, whatever I could think of. Do I think that he retained any of it? Of course not. I do believe it helped me organize my thoughts. I’m gearing up for a lifetime of teaching him about the natural world. By talking to him out loud on subjects that we will one day be actually having conversations, I am able to test my explanations, identify what I need to brush up on, and learn again myself. Am I explaining things clearly? Would a young child be able to understand what I’m saying? Is there an experiment or hands on activity that I could use to drive home the point? At what age should I broach this subject or that subject?
Right now, he’s a sounding board who likes my inflections and funny faces. He’s interested in me talking and singing, touching things (trying to eat things), look at what is happening in the world around him, and sometimes even smell stuff. I love it.