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School Zone

Last week, we arrived in the Balkans for a much needed vacation.  After 15 uninterrupted months of work, I jokingly told my parents just days before our flight that I felt like I'd been running with scissors trying to prepare for the trip.
Once a very "happy to sleep" baby, our now two and 3/4-year-old sleep protester Max has dictated minimal sleep for Mommy & Daddy, only allowing us to barely separate the even longer winter work days. Alas, now that I've recovered from jet lag and adjusted to the caffeine intensity of the customary four to five cups of Turska Kafa, I am finally able to relax and appreciate the quaint Eastern European lifestyle, which is quite a refreshing change from the super fast pace of our Washington, DC metropolis.  Most ironic and pleasantly surprising, however is that as my Mommy status tries to fully engage this "pit stop", Max's practice of Serbian has taken off at lightning speed since our arrival.
"Neću to, Mama! Come on! Hoće McQueen! That's Max's red car! It's mine!"  Lightning McQueen is indeed a favorite among children all around the world.  The fast, bright, shiny red star of Disney Pixar's Cars is a staple of each of Max's play dates and his inspection seems to denote the start and finish of each gathering. Upon arrival, Max sizes up the toys of his peers and just before departure, his host ensures that the most celebrated rides find their way back home! However, in between these surveys, Max and his friends engage in active story telling, stunt dictation and most comically, actual conversation. This universal adoration for McQueen has perhaps endorsed Max's use of at least the Serbian toddler vernacular.
Just before our trip, we finally parted with Max's Fisher Price Crawl Around Car, which was probably a harder task for me than it was for Max. I remember researching it online when he first learned to sit on his own. The sturdy toddler size car served us through two birthdays and even though its wheels are only props and don't actually roll, Max took very good care of his first hot ride! We discussed every shape and angle, every verse to every song. Even the gear shift made for fun analysis.

Recent studies reveal that parents who consciously engage with their babbling infants can accelerate their children’s vocalizing and language learning. The hustle bustle of life definitely makes me grow impatient and at times I feel like I'm rushing through the most important parts, but it's the fun silly chats about the detail of a toy car that have proven to be most powerful. Sometimes it's the slower pace of the school zone that allows us not only to play safely but more importantly to learn the value of those lessons and this theme rings true not only for Max but for Max's Mommy too!