Maybe you clicked to this blog from our weekly email with one eye open and a bit of skepticism rolling around that mind of yours…I know I would’ve as recently as 2 years ago! Poetry?! Really?? But today, I feel differently.
Our oldest son is a sophomore in high school. He attends a “Classical” school, which I hadn’t even heard of until right before we signed him up (no judgment, please). During his freshman year he was introduced to the liberal arts, the Great Books, their all school play and…poetry. All of this was very much out of his comfort zone (ours too, in many ways). In late fall, his school hosted a family talent show which was such a connecting event, especially after we had all been in Covid lock-down for months. Several of the elementary aged siblings recited poetry on stage. Our 6 and 9 year olds were enamored as they witnessed the courage and confidence of peers reciting works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Shel Silverstein, and Roald Dahl. You could see their wheels spinning as they watched one after the other recite what they had memorized over the course of a few days or weeks. The crowd clapped and the children smiled with humility.
Our youngest, the only girl, got inspired! She ran to find us from her spot next to the stage where she had been watching and said “I’ve got to go! I’ve got to do this! I’m going to recite the 50 States Song in alphabetical order”! My first thought was “Oh no!! This is NOT classical poetry! This is an old song from back when I was a youngin that we learned in Geography class.” But then it struck me… she wanted to share something she had memorized, too! She wanted to be part of the group. Sandwiched between “From a Railway Carriage” and “Please, Mrs. Butler”, she belted out “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado…Connecticut!” and on through the end…”Wisconsin…Wyooooooo ming!” The audience clapped and smiled and she beamed with joy!
This one evening of performances sparked a real curiosity for our entire family! Our oldest son felt proud of his sister for braving the stage and trying something new! And our youngest son (the “watch and see” child who waits until he has observed someone else try something several times before trying it himself) wanted to know more about simple poems he could take a gander at. And our daughter was hooked after that one evening of wonder. As their mom, I felt some pressure to read up about poetry and find some of the classics for them to sink their teeth into. But I was a little intimidated, I admit. After all, I had no personal experience with the liberal arts or poetry outside of Dr. Seuss. So I googled and jumped on Pinterest and found a fun little jingly poem about Puffins (yes, the birds). They had been studying about Puffins in their school work, so I thought I’d start with something very familiar and tackle the classics later. I printed it out and handed it to them and together, they read it over and over and over until they had it memorized. I asked them to perform it for the family and they were delighted. We re-enacted the family talent show, with just us. It was magical! They dressed up in their favorite clothes and we poured fancy drinks and they put on a performance that inspired us all. Their high school brother was beaming as their high pitched voices and big smiles radiated through our living room.
You see, poetry wasn’t something we were familiar or comfortable with. But that’s the case with lots of things in parenting and family life, right?! Just having the courage to try something new (and embrace it) unified our family! It uncovered a new corner of the imagination that until then was seemingly hidden. And in this day and age...a screen free activity, too? BONUS!
As you approach the season of Summer, dive into new adventures without the guilt of “more screen time”! Whether it’s a family talent show, living room line dancing, poetry recitation, or painting with Bob Ross, commit to gathering together as a team to try something new with courage and confidence. Oh, and don’t skimp on laughter! It’s always fun to integrate some humor whenever you take a risk and try something for the first time.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Charles Dickens
Speaking of new adventures…If you haven’t already, check out our Adventure Into Character subscription kit! There are poems tucked inside the kids journals that will inspire and delight! Just think…a box that arrives every other month, full of fun activities and learning for the whole family—your pace, your style. We believe in building the character of our kids through experience and stories. This kit is perfect for honing in on one particular character strength for 30-60 days to dial up Organization, Respect, Gratitude, Generosity, Forgiveness and Self-Control. And again...SCREEN FREE!