Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Warts and Wonder

My daughter is plagued with warts. When we first moved here, we had to do battle with several on her present, we are battling 3 warts on her fingers, with a fourth we're trying to nip that one early. This means that every morning and every evening, she must soak her hands in warm water for five minutes, scrub her fingers with soapy water, at which point I apply Compound W to the warts, then cover them with band-aids. This morning, as I was applying the wart medicine, my daughter said a sentence in German, containing the word "sichtbar", repeated, and the word "weider". I understood most of what the sentence said, though I cannot reproduce the sentence, and was stuck on the word "sichtbar".


She repeated it for me, and again I felt very close to comprehension, but couldn't quite break through. "I don't understand it in German, would you say it in English?"

She thought for a moment, then said, "Art does not make the visible again, but it makes visible. It's Paul Klee's motto."

Sometimes, there's really nothing to feel but wonder.

I thought so, as well.

Munich is actually incredibly rich for this sort of thing--within about 6 blocks of where I live are the homes of (count 'em) Thomas Mann, Bertold Brecht, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and even Vladimir Lenin, at one point. That and a multitude of Nazis, of course. In fact, the apartment house I live in is somewhat famous for once housing Leni Reifenstahl. It's a mixed Germany will be. That said, I think me daughter is one bright spark--beyond the usual prejudice a father would have--and I suspect that by the time she's dating, she'll be arguing circles around me (not many 3 1/2 year olds not only know the word, but the meaning of the word, tautology--she did.) That's been enhanced by the fact that 1) she had to learn German to attend school--and rose to the occasion admirably, and 2) she is very fortunate to have a young, still idealistic teacher who shares her love of art. Thing is, this happened on Wednesday morning...and on Wednesdays, she has a special class called Schulhausgestaltung (Gestalt being one of those few words of German I had coming into the nation--along with other generally useless words like Gotterdammerung and Weltanshauung and Ubelkeit (for some reason...)) was in this class, the previous Wednesday that she learned this sentence--so she'd not only been carrying the sentence around for a week, but had been thinking about it. After I posted this, when I picked her up, I asked her what she thought it meant: her answer made it perfectly clear that she did indeed understand it, if on a somewhat simplistic level. But hey, she's much can one expect?

Evolution and misanthropy aside, there's nothing like having a kid to expand your sense of both empathy for others and wonder at the world. An incredible gig.
It's people like you that make me half-reconsider my selfish desire to never have children!
Robin, I think I could safely be categorized as a reluctant father who has since been reformed. It just turned out to suit me.

Thanks for the compliment.
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