Friday, May 13, 2011


and if there's one thing the russians take seriously
it's poetry.
i don't know if it's the fact
that it's so ridiculously easy to rhyme words
because of the grammar construction,
or if it's pushkin's legacy--
but whatever it is,
it came as no surprise to me
that my 6-year-old's weekly homework
involved memorizing a 15-20-liner poem.

well that experience
served her well--
because this week
was the first poetry recitation competition,
and the first competition of any type
that we have encountered for our kids so far.

beyond the initial memorizing the poems--
avi with her 8-liner
and milla with her 4-pager,
which always stuns me how quickly
these little minds soak up these words
and commit them to memory--
came the actual realization that this was a competition.
how were we to prepare for such a thing?
for winning?  or for losing?
the whole process left me with a pit in my stomach.
what was i to say to them
to prepare them emotionally, morally?
do i take the approach,
"yes!  that's exactly what they want to hear!
you're going to win!"
or do i spend my time preparing them
in case of failure:
"now only some children will be chosen
to go past the first round,
but that doesn't mean you didn't do your best. . ."???
well, we spent most of our time
perfecting the poems,
merely because i wasn't sure how else to prepare them.

but when we entered the classroom
on competition day
alex and i gasped.
there, sitting in the middle of the room,
smack in front of the "stage"
were 3 judges.
3 judges, with big fat score cards to hold up.
not to mention
the white board with the children's names down it,
where the scores would be recorded for all to see.
should i have brought tissues?
consolation prizes?
how would they she take this?

although milla opted to be the very last up there,
and after i breathed a sigh of relief
that she got up there at all,
we proudly listened
as she recited her whole poem
without a pause or mistake.
we beamed.
and although she skipped all the animation
we had worked so hard to instill
which surely would have given her that extra point
to get her into the next round,
she scored a 29/30.

did she even realize there was a scoreboard
or that certain kids were chosen to move on?
i don't think so.
was she pleased with herself?
not needed.
except to wipe my own brow.
and the candy consolation prize was enough
to make everyone happy--
regardless of what was on that big white board.


ktb said...

I love, love, love that photo

lindsay said...

i love the photo too! i wish you had a recording of some sort of her reciting the poem. she'll have to do it for me on skype sometime. so proud of her though! way to go mims!!!

OnGod'sErrand said...

Amazing! good for her.....but, my goodness don't the read the psychology books over there? Don't they wonder what they might be doing to those little psyches? Although, I have no doubt that Milla will be up to any challenge they throw at her. The picture tells it all---she's so focused.