New York

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Wood, not the commodity kind but the real one you find in nature, is not easy to come by in the city. But within the last week we were lucky enough to come across it in two occasions. Once in the natural materials atelier of the wonderful Wonder of Learning exhibit about the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood learning, hosted by my daughter’s school. And today in Central Park, catching a brief break from the freezing temperatures and blistering winds for a sun-filled snow day in nature (albeit one surrounded by skyscrapers).

I’m so glad we got to know Reggio Emilia by chance, because it happened to be the closest preschool to our home. The more I learn about it the more I love it. It’s absolutely child-centered and child-led, with adults and teachers taking on supporting roles as mentors and guides to encourage children to explore all the ways they can express themselves. It fits so well with our own views, based on children’s rights and respect for the child. Childhood is about exploration, experimentation, creativity, endless fun and play and I’m rather relieved that my daughter has the chance to experience that, and natural wood, in this hectic, urban, and ultra-competitive megacity.


7/52 Wood


At the moment one of your favourite things to ask is: What’s this made of?

Beirut is turning you into a material girl: wood, plastic, metal, cloth- of which wood is your favourite- interesting since there are so few real life trees in the city. Despite this, you are constantly looking (or listening) out for it as I discovered the other day.

We were in our friends’ car on the way home from a birthday lunch on a public holiday, discussing the traffic, as you do in Lebanon (every destination has two journey lengths, depending on the time of day and amount of traffic on the road).
‘It’s not too bad so far… touch wood!’ I said, halfheartedly looking round the car for something wooden to touch before giving up.
A few minutes later you piped up with ‘Where’s the wood that mama touched?’
How do I explain that one? When, if ever, are we old enough for superstitions?
And how do I respond when you ask ‘What’s this made of?’  pointing to yourself.
So far the best answer I have offered you is ‘lots of things’ , but soon, I will tell you about the Buddhist idea that we are all made of the same wonders as wood, the same elements as the earth, the same stuff as the stars.