Zumba and Pierogies: A Canadian Education

Perhaps, if you’re of the survey-loving variety, you’ve come across those pesky reports ranking countries around the world according to their student test results in reading, math and science. 

[Err, maths?]

I can’t say I’ve given these reports as much attention as, say, the news on celebrity-babies dot com, but I have occasionally glanced at them just to make sure the country-of-interest (Canada, the US, or – back in the day – South Africa) is somewhere in the top half of the results.

As luck would have it, Canada tends to rank highly. Which is nice. It makes me feel like I can send my kid off to school and not worry too much about what he may or may not be learning. Like when my mom asked me something about the Gort’s use of computers at school, I had no idea.

Because Canada’s in the top – whatever they’re learning, it’s bound to be better than what his counterparts in other countries are learning.

But occasionally, ‘whatever he learns at school’ intersects with our home life. And the Gort comes home and says things like, ‘have you ever had a pierogy?’ And I look at him and say ‘why?’

And then he tells me things like, ‘because we learned about pierogies…in social studies today.’ And I think back to the time I went to the Heritage Bakery on 37th Street (looking for polish candy, admittedly) and bought some pierogies and made them and none of my boy-children ate them.

‘What do you know about pierogies,’ I test his newfound knowledge and he explains about the dough filled with fruit [or other stuff]. And I carpe the moment and drive the four of us back to the same Heritage Bakery for a pack of fresh cheese and potato pierogies and a pack of frozen blueberry pierogies.

I pay $15 for the pierogies and we go home and I pan-fry the potato-cheese ones and boil the blueberry [frozen] ones. And I toss them on a plate and call it dinner?

I take a bite of the blueberry pierogy and try to decide if it is, in fact, one of the vilest things I’ve ever tasted. Four slightly chilled blueberries encased in a slimy dough wrapper. Yes, it is. Vile.

‘These are delicious!’ the Gort insists and I think two things. One, children have no clue what good food tastes like and (2) I bet he’ll change his tune after two bites.

Sure enough, minutes later, he modifies his original verdict: ‘Actually, I only like the blueberries, I don’t like this’ and he points to the slimy dough wrapper.

In addition to the pierogies unit in social studies class, the Gort also had an opportunity to participate in a ‘Zumba residency’ last week. Perhaps I’m the only person alive who still doesn’t know what Zumba is, but when I saw the note in his school-issued agenda, I wondered: ‘Isn’t Zumba something for the err, older set?’

No matter, on the final day of the residency, we parents were invited to sit on the stage in the crazy-hot gym and observe the room full of seven year olds doing their best to keep up with the Zumba instructor. Who instructed…en espanol.

All four of us attended the Gort’s Zumba debut, which was – perhaps – overkill considering the informal nature of it all. (Meaning, there were 20 seats and we occupied four of them.)The professor and I smiled at the display of un-coordination before us. ‘He’s got his dad’s dancing ability,’ my better half shook his head; remembering his youth and the awkward nanoseconds he spent on the dance floor.

To be fair, it might be the age, as most of the kids had arms and legs going in opposite directions; barely resembling the moves their instructor demonstrated. But there was no denying they were having fun.

Later that evening, I played one of the songs from the instructor’s playlist. The Gort ran out of his room and together we busted a few Zumba ‘moves’ in the kitchen.

I’m guessing it was one of those moments that felt better than it looked.

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