Do you remember when you were at school and there were those kids who were too cool for, well, school?
Maybe you were one of them. Maybe I was one of them too, from time to time. Conveniently, I can’t really remember. But I remember the belief that putting up your hand in class to ask questions or give answers was totally, totally uncool. Being too engaged and eager and enthusiastic, traits I so admire and value in people today, was seen as nerdy. It would get you teased and you would either stop doing it to fit in or you would continue and forge your own path, which, in those school days, was not particularly lauded.
Today, now that conscious parenting, intentional travel and mindful teaching are beginning to make changes, I can only hope that the labels of cool and uncool get one massive flip upside down. Because engaged, eager and enthusiastic are the makings of a happy person, a good person, and a person I want my sons to become. To be.
It is through curiosity that we learn, that we grow. Whatever our age.
When I see them shooting up their hands to ask questions on our outings to places like the local aquarium at the V&A Waterfront, I beam with pride. Not a thought enters Renzi or Carlos’s little heads that maybe they should dial down the passion. Nope. Not one. At every feeding time in the penguin exhibit, Renzi’s little fingers are the first ones you see dancing as high up as possible to offer their best shot at one of the assistant’s questions. Like, how can you tell the difference between the males and females? Do penguins fight? Can they fly?
We’ve spent some time getting to know the African penguins at Boulders Beach. And perhaps it has made my boys believe they’re specialists on the matter of penguindom. Perhaps they secretly are. They take in far more than I do. They ask the experts more questions than I can keep track of (or eavesdrop on). They are, simply, so curious about the world, the animal world in particular, whether of land or water, that you might think they were a part of it. And in a way, I guess they are. I guess we are.
It’s not only the penguins that get my boys’ attention at the Two Oceans Aquarium. It’s also the sharks, the sting rays, the seahorses, the multitude of fish… the incredible diversity of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans in one place. They might not get to spend, thankfully, as much time in the sea getting acquainted with the ways of shark life, but they get to see it all up close here. Through the safety of glass, but with their own eyes. Real life, not screen life.
They get to engage, they get to learn, and ask all the questions they like. And they do! They do! And to me, that makes them the coolest kids in my book. Don’t you think?