I remember having to stand in front of my grade school classes to recite many a’ poem. There’s something about the hot sticky palms and butterfly tummy that I’d get beforehand…followed by the exhilaration of the last line (sometimes successfully) delivered…that seems to be a part of my character-building childhood experiences.
I think I can still recall a few stray lines of Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe, although I have to be careful not to mix them up with bits and pieces from the Preamble to the Constitution and the Girl Scout Pledge. Although I don’t think they do much of it in schools these days, there’s nothing wrong with a little good ol’ rote memorization in my book.
I was shocked and amazed to realize this week that our girls have been practicing some rote memorization of their own.
I exercised my Stretch Armstrong prowess climbing into the backseat to contort myself into a very uncomfortable position between their still-rear-facing car seats this weekend, vowing to keep them awake for the 45-minute drive home from our Saturday Shopping Adventure.
While I had packed a couple of toys for just such an occasion, I realized that I would have to twist my pretzel-self into yet another shape to reach the toy bag.
Instead, I decided to “read” to them. I didn’t have any books with me, but I’ve read their favorite 10 or 12 books so…many…times that I know them easily by heart.
I started with a “book” of Mother Goose rhymes:
“Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the…”
[pause to pick up a stray sock]
“Fiddle!” chimed in Baby B.
“Hey, you’re right, B! Great job!”
“The cow jumped over the…”
[pause to see if there was something to this]
“Moon!” volunteered Baby A.
The girls and I went on like this for quite some time, “reading” a number of books. They knew every blank from one of their alphabet books (“A is for apple that I like to bite”), with the exception of the word “xylophone”. When I got to the letter X, they both started signing “music”, which I accepted as an alternative answer.
At one point there was some discussion about Humpty Dumpty (or Humpidy, as the girls call him). Baby B contested that he actually sat on a "tuffet", as opposed to a "wall". I had to settle the dispute by reminding the girls that, in fact, Little Miss Muffet was the tuffet-sitter.
I’m sure this is just the first of many such debates I’ll have to settle. And as the girls get a little older (and sassier, I’m sure), they’ll probably start to challenge, “What’s a tuffet, anyway?”
And to that, not knowing the precise answer, maybe I’ll summon a few words of philosophical wisdom from Mr. Frost himself.