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Mom, I know how to say hello in Mandarin

School's out for the boys and preparations for the trip are in full swing. To get the boys excited about it we've been reading loads of children's stories and folk tales about the places we'll be visiting. These include a collection titled 'Tales From Near And Far' and 'Famous South African Folk Tales' among many others borrowed from Cape Town's Woodstock library, around the corner from their Nani (grandmother in Hindi).

Our older son Guy (6) has just completed the French equivalent of grade one (CP) and is reading beautifully in both French and English (from my unbiased point of view, of course). He reads everything that he comes across, from recipes lying about the kitchen counter to maps and guide books on my bedside table. On a recent trip to Stellenbosch he literally read every signpost along the way. Hope he doesn't lose steam by the time we get to Brazil.

His younger brother Max (4) is dying to be able to follow suit. In an annoyed voice, he exclaimed the other day: "I'm the the only one in this house who doesn't read". To which his brother retorted, by way of consolation: "You're not the only one. Flash (the dog) doesn't either".

Max does however seem to have the upper hand on being able to say hello in the various languages of the countries we'll be visiting. Well, apart from, "Mom, in China they say meow". Not quite, but he's trying. His ola in Portuguese and namaste in Hindi were much better.

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