These lyrics permeated the diesel fumes and stale sweat that clogged the air while their van dawdled in typical Addis Ababa traffic. They were taking Tariku for a CT scan of his brain. Tariku was expressionless, slumped against Jessica's chest. Per agency rules, Morgan was not allowed to hold him. Steven had just landed in Addis and would meet Tariku for the first time minutes later on the outdoor steps of the one-room clinic. The 2010 World Cup was still several months away. This song would become its anthem. And Tariku's.
I am not trying to be a drama queen. Nor am I suggesting that K'naan's esoteric lyrics somehow resonate with my not yet two-year-old son. His taste in music is not that refined. I do find it befitting, though, that the World Cup video that accompanies the Coca Cola remix of Wavin' Flag has the same hypnotic effect upon Tariku that Sesame Street has upon most toddlers. Quite simply, Tariku is entranced by the colorful images of men and boys playing soccer. Let me back up a couple of years and share part of our morning routine with y'all. (Amanda - that one's for you.) I crave sleep the way most women crave ... shoes? I do not want to forego a single minute. It is no secret that my kids are usually awake and out of bed before I am. Big whoop. They entertain themselves by reading quietly in their rooms and completing puzzles. NOT! Their notion of "playing quietly" involves racing each other down the upstairs hallway, slamming doors, cackling (probably just giggling, but at that hour it sounds like cackling), singing, and whispering very loudly. It is my least favorite part of the day. I usually admit defeat within minutes, round up the troops, and tuck them into my bed to watch Sesame Street, Caiilou, Zooboomafoo, or whatever Sprout is showing at that god-forsaken-hour. Not all that innovative, but it works worked. And I got to brush my teeth and sometimes my hair. Taki did not get that memo. He has zero interest in the fuzzy (or bald) friends that had my other kids at hello. Quite frankly, he has little interest in TV in general. Except, and this is quite an exception, if we are watching sports. Football, soccer, basketball, hockey -- even baseball. He stands still, which is a feat in itself, and stares. Until something happens. A goal is scored. A touchdown. A home run. And then he hoots and hollers, arms thrown overhead, trying to create space between his feet and the ground, as he soaks up the moment. It is a sight to behold and I'm willing to bet that his unchecked animation would make a sports fan out of the most bookish of you. I have speculated, as mothers do, as to why he is so taken with sports. Both watching and playing them. I am conscious of stereotypes and want to state unequivocally that my suggestion that Taki loves sports is in no way tied, subconsciously or not, to the color of his skin. His passion is tangible and comes from somewhere deep within. It is not something that can be taught. Nor is it something that can be learned. It is one of many gifts that I did not bestow upon him. Yet, it is a gift to me, to all of us frankly, to watch him do his thing. Cuz' the boy knows what he's doing. But, in case you are prone to stereotypes, rest assured we are not raising "some dumb jock."
And here is the Wavin' Flag remix that allows me just enough time to brush my teeth in the morning. If we had to move on from Sesame Street, K'naan ain't so bad....