Friday, January 30
Then I started really thinking about it. You sign your kid up. You pay $8 for the privilege. Your kid memorizes a poem that he picks out with the help of his teacher. Your kid recites the poem on stage, getting a chance for a little public speaking and a teeny performance. I really started thinking about Mitchell and how shy he can be. Wouldn't it be awesome if he could choose a short four or five line poem, memorize it, feel good about it, and perform it? I know! The answer is yes!
Fast forward to the next day in the van.
Me: Hey guys, there's this thing you can sign up for where you get to pick out a poem, memorize it and then perform it on stage at a poetry recital. Doesn't that sound fun?
Kids: (little to no response)
Me: So, what if I signed you up? You could totally do it!
Tennyson in his super determined voice: I'm not doing it.
Elliot: I wanna! I wanna do it!
Me: You have to be in school Elliot. You can't do it.
Elliot (wiggling angrily in her chair and helicoptering her mitts-on-strings around) NO FAAAAAAAIR!
Tennyson and Mitchell: NO!
Jordan: Mmmm. What? (I love when I tell her entire things in the van only to realize she's been reading a novel the entire time. I repeat story.)
Jordan: (snort) No.
Tennyson: But why? You didn't sign me up already did you? Mommyyyyyy!
Me: No, but I want to.
(Boys) In unison: No!
Jordan: (back to her book)
Me: Would you do it?
Jordan; (shrugs non-commitedly) MmmMmm. (back to book.)
Me: Everyone listen.
(I assume they all listen)
Me: You guys always want money so bad. How about this - anyone who does this will get $5 from me after it's done.
Tennyson: (incredulously): That's it? Five dollars? That's not a lot.
Elliot: No faaaair! I want five dollars!
Today I was at the kids' school. I remembered the poetry recital, and had a chance to look through the book. There are funny poems, serious poems, long poems and definitely shorter poems. There are poems in the grade 1 list that are only 5 short lines long.
At supper I brought this up again, in front of Steven. The boys answered with a definitive NO, then they finished their supper and disappeared.
I told Steven that I really think it would be cool if they did it. I called Mitchell in.
Me: Mitchell, I was talking to your teacher today. She thinks that you could totally do this. She has some fun poems for you to pick from. There's one about a birthday wish, there's a puppy one, there are all kinds. They're not very long.
Mitchell, in whiniest voice ever: No. I don't want to. People will look at me. There will be lots of people.
Me: I know, but you know who you look at?
Me: Me! You just look at me and you say the poem just to me. Other people will be there, but you just have to say it to me. What do you think.
Mitchell: You know what I really want?
Mitchell, Coke, can I have coke?
Me: Alright smarty pants. You say I can sign you up, and I'll give you coke.
Mitchell tries hard not to smile, and squirms around on my lap making his signature whiny noises before relenting. I cheer and instruct his father to fill his cup with coke.
Then I call Tennyson in.
"Hey!" he says, "Why does Mitchell get coke, can I have coke?"
"That depends," I reply. "Mitchell only got coke after agreeing to recite a poem at the recital. Would you like to recite a poem?"
Never do either of them realize that the original $5 I offered them would get them way more than one 6 ounce cup of coke.
Tennyson storms from the dining room into the kitchen. "It's no fair!" he yells. "I don't want to. There will be a million people there...."
"There aren't a million people in Portage," I reply helpfully.
"Well how many then?" he asks, rejoining me at the table.
"Just me and Daddy," I say, a somewhat obvious smirk in my voice.
I'm sure he resists the urge to roll his eyes. "Really?" he says, challenging. "Just you and daddy." He looks annoyed.
"Okay, well me and Daddy and like, six other people."
He still looks incredulous.
"I really just want some coke. Mitchell has coke."
"Mitchell's going to say a poem."
Tennyson scowls and makes the I'm going to cry angry face. He heads back to the kitchen.
"It's not fair! I just want coke. I never get anything!" It's true. He never gets one - single - thing.
"You don't have to do it," I said. "I'm not going to make you."
He comes back again. "So I can have coke?"
"Fine! I'll do it."
He heads to the kitchen to get a clean cup. He comes back and puts the cup on the table. I hesitate before pouring - "Okay, so you are going to do it?"
"Yes," he mumbles, brow furrowed in torture. I pour his cup, replace the cap, set down the bottle, and before he can pick up the coke I do a happy little fist pump and say "Yes!"
Tennyson, always looking for the humor in everything, fights it, but can't contain his smile. He laughs. He drinks his coke.
Jordan is at a birthday party tonight, so she wasn't part of this conversation, but I'm hoping she won't want to be shown up by her brothers. Either that or I'll bribe her with something cool.
I know, meanest mother ever.
You know what else is mean? Tennyson did not want to go to Hip Hop last year after one other kid made fun of him. I made him keep going. He absolutely loved the recital. Tennyson also did not want to start kindergarten when he was 5, but I obviously made him. By the end of the first day he loved kindergarten. Neither of the kids wanted to do piano (because they were shy about the teacher and they wanted me to stay and I said I wasn't staying), but they are good at it and they like it! Mitchell said he wanted to do nothing this year, and although I thought about it, it seemed wrong to let three of four kids participate in an activity, so I signed him up for soccer, which he loves.
Last year Jordan hopped up on stage and sang a song at an audition for the Little Mermaid. I honestly never thought she'd do it, but she did!
It's not like I'll make them memorize and perform one-man acts of the Canterbury Tales, although, that would be cool and should definitely be considered for later.
Sunday, January 25
This afternoon we met up with our other friends Mike and Sunny and their kids and we stood at the top of the snow hill pretending to be outdoorsy while our kids traveled up and down the ridiculously icy hill. We have had some nice spring-type weather lately, and the crazy back and forth of thawing and freezing has made the hill a little like a luge run.
The kids thought it was awesome, and flew down the hill over and over at breakneck speeds. We lasted a full hour until Elliot finally slipped and smacked her face on the hill (who'd have thought the first injury would be walking up the hill?), and bloodied her nose.
I love how brave our kids are, and how they don't seem to feel the cold (or whine about it), until they are really legitimately cold. I vaguely remembering being less wimpy about it as a child myself....
Saturday, January 24
I'm supposed to get groceries and bake a cake some point today, so I suppose we will have to move around eventually.
My kids have been running all over the house today, playing some sort of all-house games, alternated with a little bickering, and they seem to enjoy the day at home.
Our weeks are pretty busy between school, gymnastics, soccer and piano lessons, and pajama Saturdays are a welcome break.
Aaaaany minute now, I'm going to make a shopping list. Maybe, probably...
Tuesday, January 6
Each page has a date (minus the year), and a question about your day, what you think about something, how you feel about something, etc. Following that, there are five places to enter an answer. You fill in the first one. Then the next day you fill in the first answer on the next page, and when you get to the end of the book, you go back to the beginning and fill in the next blank under the same question. There are 365 days. Cool eh?
I saw this at school today, and I want it too:
The book is made up of literally, 642 things to write about, and writing space for each of them. It is literally, English homework for grownups! I know! You are all clicking the link right now and ordering it!
Why is it that I always have a way better wish list in January than I do in November?
Monday, January 5
Elliot comes up from the basement, her face lit up with excitement. "Mommy!" She says, "Tennyson and Mitchell said you have treats hidden for me!"
I take her little face in my hands. "Aw honey, I don't," I say. "I think they just made that up."
Her brows furrow as realization sets in. "They were just trying to make me go away?"
I nod. "Yep. That's not very nice is it?"
She shakes her head no.
"You know what?" I say, "I'll find you a treat. Just for you."
Elliot skips around my feet, delighted, "and not Tennyson and Mitchell?" She is practically glowing with her newfound privilege.
"Nope," I say, before rummaging through the cupboard and giving her two Oreos.
The boys have since realized what has happened and the dialogue drifting up the basement stairwell sounds downright mutinous.
Stinkers had it coming.