Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wait'll you hear how we plays War--

Pete: After dinner, we can play 52 pickup!


Pete: When you have cards, and you drop a few of them on the floor, that's 52 pickup!

Carolyn (gently): Um, I don't think that's right.

Pete: Yes! You can drop one card, and it's 52 pickup!

Carolyn: I think that would be one pickup. See, a whole deck of cards has 52 in it, so when you drop the whole thing, you call that 52 pickup.

Pete (with pity): No.


Ecuador pictures

iguana | hatching Pete | the view from the house | same, at night | how we woke up | the twinkle in Pete's eyes | fantastic flower blooming steps 1 2 3

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Must be some fine teaching in the new preschool room

Last night, Pete asked us at dinner what poetry is. Carolyn got going on a good four-year-old-level answer, and then Pete volunteered,

"A poem is when you read something, and you see things that are different."

And we said, um, bwa? (As many of you will know, he's getting pretty close to a number of classic formulations of poetry's function.) I have no idea where this came from, and I don't mean that in a "Wow, this kid is an inexplicable genius" kind of way. I mean that we can't remember saying or reading anything remotely like this to Pete, and it isn't the kind of thing we think he'd run into at daycare. (Any of his preschool teachers or babysitters think you're the source?) And although we've read tons of poems to him, they tend, of course, to be rhymey, story-driven kids' poems, so it's hard to imagine him deriving such a definition from that. He has never said anything I found so mysterious.

In the moment, of course, I didn't tell him any of this. I did what any parent would do: I scolded him for wordiness, made him revise out the two needless "to be" verbs, and showed him how he could express the same sentiment directly as "poetry transforms vision." Then I explained how even better formulations might reflect the transformative power of poetry in their language, and sent him to bed with a copy of Shelley's Defence of Poetry and my lecture notes.