Friday, September 26, 2014

reading the drama

We used to live, briefly, in Boston.  Julia was born there, though she still to this day does not seem to be able to assimilate this information into her brain.  I have taken to drilling her on the city and state of her birth.  We are working on it.  Last I checked, she still had to pause and think before answering.

Elliott did not come along until after Boston.  Once we had moved to Maine.



But we took a quick trip to Boston recently.  To see beloved Aunt Wendy who is currently performing in the play Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.  AND she is performing with Theo Huxtable.  I mean Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

In order to have the trip work for all the kids with a longish drive and different levels of maturity for the content of the play, we decided that Jonathan would take the bigger kids to the performance and Elliott and I would have some time together doing something that was just right for him.

We all hit Quincy Market for a quick lunch.  Partly, I was appeasing Nicholas' middle school boy love of food.  But mostly, I was trying to learn from past mistakes.  Because let's say, for example, a certain eldest child, raised mostly in Maine, was set loose on a field trip last October with a bit of money but only limited time in Quincy Market and was not necessarily prepared for what to do.  And may have wandered aimlessly and felt a bit scared and ended up just grabbing a slice of pizza instead of one of the other delicious things he saw other people eating.  And then might have dreamed about what he did not get for an entire year.

But, as I said, just for example.  Julia will be heading on the same trip next year.  And I wanted Nicholas to get a better sense of how this place works, and wanted to prep Julia a little bit for it herself.


We caught a bit of a musical Shakespearean performance in the square out front.  Again, watching my children, I thought to myself: must continue to expose children to the larger world so they look less terrified in the face of strange and eccentric behavior.

Hilariously, Nicholas turned to me and said, This is kind of like when that man was breakdancing to silent music in the entryway of Walmart this summer.


Moving about on the streets of a large city.  It is something I would like to make sure my children are comfortable doing.  Because they will miss so much if they are not.


Delicious lunch consumed, we dropped Julia, Jonathan, and Nicholas off at the theater, where they had an amazing afternoon watching their talented and so hip Aunt perform.  Getting to go backstage and see her dressing room.  And meet her cast mates.  I mentioned Theo Huxtable, right?  He was, apparently, fabulous.  And so very friendly and kind and genuine in person.

I was very sorry to miss the performance.  But I was kind of also looking forward to taking Elliott to some of the places I used to take Nicholas when we lived there.  And to having some rare alone time with him, so wanting this, missing him amongst all the busy back to school shuffling and activities and noise.

We hit our former favorite toy store.  Where big city Schleich display cases are larger and more diverse.


We went to the puppet theater and saw our young child friendly performance.


And after, had our own backstage / this is how things work experience.


But my favorite part?  Oh yes.  The books.  Specifically, The Children's Bookshop, one of my absolute favorite children's bookstores.

I haven't been to a book store in awhile.  The Recently Acquired shelf at our branch of the public library is as new I get these days.  But there are some lovely new books out there.


Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd.  So lovely.  And perfect for those fall camping trips.

For me?  


Egg and Spoon, by Gregory Maguire

I had to limit myself.  And wait to order these from the library.  And first wait for the library to acquire some of them, actually.

But we spent a good hour sitting here.  With this as our landscape.


What could be better?

So what we were reading?

Well.  

There are four, yes four, new Elephant and Piggie books out since last we purchased.  We read them all.  And chose two to come home with us.

As we read, I was remembering all of my time in these places with preschool Nicholas and baby Julia.  But Elliott, in the way that any child, perhaps especially a third child can do so well, was shouting out his individuality, making the time his.  By being himself, uniquely himself.

We were alone in the shop.  And we were giggling.


Because this Mo Willems dude is funny.  Fun-ny.

And also?  This Mo character gets drama.  Gets drama in the theatrical nonverbal expressive sense.  I think that kids who have been raised reading the Elephant and Piggie books have been gifted the experience and therefore skills to read the pictures, the facial expressions, the actions, what isn't said but seen as being as much a part of the story as the words.  This is the kind of reader that Elliott is.

As we read, My New Friend is So Fun, Elliott surprised me.  He is very good at this.

We got to the part in the book where it is revealed that Piggie and Bat have been drawing pictures.  Their good friends, Elephant and Snake, had been getting a wee bit worried that they were going to be forgotten by these two new friends.

But no.  Not forgotten.  


I stopped reading and looked at Elliott: Did you know that's what they were drawing?

It is not exactly what I meant to ask.  I was actually trying to assess him, get a sense of how he might be taking this story of new friendships creating worry that others might be forgotten.  Wondering, in this freshly back to school, new peer groupings in his classes, shuffling of attachments and interests and all.  How this might be hitting him.  Wondering if he might talk about it.  We were, after all, alone in a bookstore.  With Wonder shining down on us.

But no.  He smiled.  And then rolled his eyes.

Of course I did Mommy.  I knew all along.  

He leafed through the book backwards from where we were.  And stopped on the endpages at the beginning of the book.

Look.


They are using grey and green crayons.  What else would they be drawing?


Right.  I had not noticed that.  Elliott, the most visually thoughtful and perceptive of us all.  Of course, he did.  And had been reading it with this knowledge the whole time.

But really, what I think this book shows most is that the best work happens on your belly.  On the floor.  With you tongue sticking out.

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