meanest mother EVER, and the kids are doing a poetry recital!

There is a community speaking arts festival coming up in April. A couple of weeks ago, a sign up sheet came home for any parents who wanted to sign their kids up. I put the paper into one of the paper "piles" and kind of forgot about it. Then the other night at gymnastics I was talking to another parent and she had signed her boys up.

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.
Mitchell: No.
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!
Me: Jordan?
Me: Jordan!
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.
Me: Really?
Jordan: Maybe.
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)
Jordan: Huh?
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.
 Mitchell: Nooooo!
Elliot: No faaaair! I want five dollars!

Ugh. Seriously. 

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?
Mitchell: Who?
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?
Me: What?
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.


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