“A for Aligator” screams the older one.
“B for Bear”, pipes up the younger.
Cat, Dog, Elephant, Fox – the two of them alternate almost effortlessly as you turn the pages of the Animal Alphabet book.
You hold your breath, but they easily leap over “G for Giraffe” and “H for Horse” too.
Now you are sure they are going to trip up, but they don’t.
“I for Impala”, declaims the older one.
“J for Jaguar”, shoots back the younger.
You had not even heard of those animals till you were in high school, but yours was not the generation of Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.
Orangutan and Panda are no less accessible to them than Sheep and Tigers.
You wonder awhile if you are doing the right thing by teaching them names of animals they are unlikely to encounter even in a zoo. Rote learning does have some benefits, but you are not a great fan of it. Must you necessarily inflict it on your kids?
“Mamma, again?” asks the younger one.
“Later”, you shoot back.
“But I want, …” starts off the younger one, but his brother cuts him short.
“Let us look at the pictures”, he says. “See, this is a Panda. Panda eats bamboo. You know what bamboo is? Come I will show you.” He strides confidently to where the lucky bamboo shoots are, with the younger one trotting dutifully behind him.
You smile. Maybe it is not all rote learning after all!!!
You also make a mental note to read up on Newts and Rhinoceroses – after all, you don’t want to get caught on the wrong foot when they start asking questions.