Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homework Help With Poetry? I'd Love To, Or How Our Evening Descended Into Blackmail Threats As A Parenting Tool, by Allison

So it is a known fact in our household and probably elsewhere that I am:
Total nerd
Compulsive reader
Writer of jibber jabber that is often not at  all succinct
And music freak.
Also, that combination of things is usually happening all at once.

So E, in preparation for Poetry Coffeehouse for her Fourth Grade,
(Which, note: I love the girls' school.
I love they have poetry coffeehouse events in which fourth graders, parents invited as audience, have to both recite a poem they like, read a poem they wrote, and usually the violin kids play something too.
Also, at V's Coffeehouse 2 years ago, the theme was Mardi Gras/Sports, which is a hysterical example of a class totally not agreeing at all, and the end result being absurdly delightful. V wore her lacrosse jersey and Mardi Gras beads.
They served us fruit, there was a program, it was darling, I have photos)

So  E has to ask what my favorite poem and/or favorite song is, as they bind them together for the class
(Note: I learned the folly of telling V my favorite poem when she was in fourth grade. 
Because of course,  I have eighty million favorite everythings, but this one seemed to suit her/my mood, so I picked The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot.
And since I am tremendously excited whenever anyone asks me what I like and why,
I print out the poem, make notes, highlight important passages, and chase her around trying to talk about the mermaids singing.
And this giant, long poem, with my Important Insights gets bound in with all the other  normal parents' normal, non-humongous poems, in which they did not write their interpretations on it, and I get the "Ug Mom really?" face from V, even though I totally bet she loves that poem later on, when I am not leaving annotated copies of it on her bed.)

I am guessing E remembers this vaguely, but she is also a word collector, and we have had poetry reading in the rain -- "Take that, Parenting Perfect Mommy Fun Time Magazine!!!" -- evenings.
So I am thinking talking about poems (and songs, they added that, I bet  somebody's dad was like "My favorite POEM???? Can it be about a guy from Nantucket?) will not stress out E.

I can DO this. 

It's not like lunch duty when I lose kids.
I can TOTALLY give favorite poem AND song, and tell why, Are there any word limitations??

And since E  has recently amused me to no end:
In choosing a verse to recite when her school did a back in time to ye olden days, Method Teaching Day, where they had to dress in calico and bring lunch in a sack and give a verse at roll call -
she asks for help and I pulled out my various books on quotes, verses, poems, great sayings, etc
(You may imagine I have collected a vast library of these over the years, and you would be right)
for her to choose from.
Kind of  steering her towards a Poor Richard's Almanac thing, based upon the time frame and sartorial challenges
facing her.

But she instead chose Voltaire.
I love her.

She chose Voltaire's last words on his deathbed, when asked to forswear Satan:
"This is no time to make new enemies."

Honestly, that ruled, and even though I am guessing calico lunch sack child may or may not have known Voltaire at age 10, I am super glad my kid does, and chooses that as her verse to share.
 Her analysis: "It is easy to remember and hard to forget."
(That is when I did a little happy dance in my head.)

So I am not worried about the assignment tasked me, favorite poem and song, other than:

I cannot possibly choose, is ludicrous, I must have some boundaries in which to work or I will go off the rails.

E remembers the very eco-non-friendly mass production of Prufrock 2 years ago, so I have word limitations set upon me.


I was going to go with Eloisa to Abelard, because I was recently trying to explain why bad memories are better than no memories, even if it doesn't seem that way at the time, and that poem has the "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" concept that I used as a reference point  --   until the entire room cleared out and I was left alone.
But with an awesome Alexander Pope poem, their loss.

But fine.
I will pick something non-prolific.

E also does not want me to embarrass her.


I am not sure I know the exact way in which NOT to embarrass her, so I decide I will give myself my own boundaries:

1. No snark, even though E is already a fan of  Dorothy Parker and I have shared some of her pithy wit, I can't unleash the majority of Dorothy Parker's caustic and scathing slashes of phrase on my ten year old, it will get either one or both of us in trouble.

2. No ee cummings, the punctuation issues would stress her out.

3. I will be normal.
I will totally not chase her around asking for themes like "Tragic Irish Poets and Tragic Irish Musicians, An Analysis."

 (Actually, I did that, she said NOOOOO.)

So, I am going very mainstream, and offer up "She Walks In Beauty" by Lord Byron, because that guy could craft a swoony phrase.

And she won't even let me write the whole poem out, and tells me I am writing the title too big, and then what am I doing writing a paragraph, stop it MOM.


I am having to scribble a song, one second of thinking, as she is yanking the paper out of my hands.
NO time to come up with song that I think links to the poem somehow in style or sentiment.

No time to even hold the pen properly, so her teacher is going to think I am insane
(Note: he already knows this, he was V's teacher too).

I scrabble out "Moonlight Mile," Rolling Stones, as fast as I can before she runs off with this assignment and leaves me NO time to add thoughts or even lyrics or ANYTHING.


But as I am an eternal optimist,
 (Note: total lie. I am, however, an eternal scouter for blackmail opportunities in which to force my children to behave properly), I realize that there is a silver lining.

Which is?

"Oh, E?
Get this.
You're now on notice. You know what's going to happen if doors are slammed, words are shouted, feral wild savage behavior exhibited? 
I'm emailing Mr. B not only the entirety of my poem, but I will write a thing on it, and its context in its era and how it holds up now, including biography on Bryon.
And then I will list all the songs I think work with it, that you wouldn't let me write.
And then I have a whole thing on the Rolling Stones song, you know that already. I just have to cut and paste.
And I have way, way more poems, songs, and thoughts on them.
Like, seriously, you better behave.
Santa, his elves, their "better be nice?"
Junior Varsity.
Mommy will rain down poems and songs and What I Think until the end of time."

"And if Poetry Analysis Blackmail isn't enough?
 Ponder this: I've halfway cooked up a mashup of "Thrift Shop" to suit the swim team. You know I'll flash mob in a heartbeat."

I am now allowed to print out the entire (short) poem! Ha HA!!

Poetry and Flash mob blackmail as a parenting tool.
If that is not already a thing, I am making it one and trademarking it.