The squeaker was excited to tell me a few weeks ago that his first-grade class is studying poetry. We don't have a lot of poetry for kids on our bookshelves, but we do have some -- a collection of poems about beasties by Roald Dahl, a few books of poems about fantastical creatures, some Shel Silverstein. The squeaker does like poetry quite a bit, which doesn't surprise me because he really pays attention to language.
Anyway, among our books of poetry is an anthology for kids that my mom picked up at the Good Will. It has a section of poems about myths and legends, and one of the squeaker's favorites is a poem called Where Goblins Dwell. Two weeks ago, the squeaker asked if he could take the book to school to show his teacher and classmates. He finally brought it back home again on Monday and I asked if his teacher had liked it. He said yes, but, as is so often the case with school, he said little else. For a kid who likes to talk, he sure is tight-lipped about what goes on at school.
But last night as he was getting ready for bed, he spied the book in the piles of books I needed to put away, and he said he loved the goblin poem. He told me that he had read it to his class. "I sat up front in the teacher's chair," he said. "And I read the poem to everyone. I needed help with a few words, though." I opened the book to the goblin poem and took a look. It included words like "cavort," "poltergeist," and "phantom," so I was not surprised he needed some help. But it amused me to no end to think of his sitting in front of his classmates, reading this strange little poem from an anthology of poetry. It is just so much like him to want to share, of all the things in the world, a poem about goblins.
To my surprise, after I put the book on the shelf and started getting the pipsqueak into his pajamas, the squeaker began reciting the poem from memory. He did not recite the entire poem, and I am sure he does not have the whole thing memorized. But he recited a good bit of it. The thing is, I have probably read it to him maybe twice. The squeaker's grandma has probably also read it to him only a few times. And of course, the squeaker had read it to his class. For whatever reason, language just sticks in his mind. I was amazed that he knew so much of the poem. When I told him so, he shrugged and said simply, "It's one of my special powers, mama!"
I laughed, but when I thought about it, it occurred to me that his knack for language really IS one of his special powers. He is such a quirky little boy!
Little brother seems to be just as quirky. When we got Chinese carry-out last week, the boys' papa ordered peking duck. He asked the boys if they wanted some duck, and the pipsqueak was quite horrified. "But papa," he said, "Ducks are so cute! We should not eat them!" Then he paused for a moment; a look of alarm suddenly crossed his face. "And they have fur!" he cried. "If that is a duck, where is the fur? How can we eat them if they have fur?"
"Well, they don't have fur, right?" I said. "They have feathers. And chickens have feathers, too, and you eat them all the time without seeing any feathers."
The pipsqueak looked skeptical, but he did agree. He always asks so many questions about our food: Where does milk come from? Are we eating dead animals? Did an animal have to die for us to have its milk? Do we eat baby animals? Why do we eat cute animals?
I'd bet that the pipsqueak is on track for a definite flirtation with and maybe a serious commitment to vegetarianism, except that he likes food so very much. Of course, the foods he likes best are grapes, butter, bread, butter, chocolate, butter, cookies, spagehetti, and his very favorite, butter. I'm not sure he really would miss steak and chicken (though he does like chick-fil-a an awful lot). Still, I suspect he could continue his love affair with food while skipping all foods that started out as a cute "aminal," especially if everything he eats is buttered.