Frances: Did you ever realize that we don’t see our own faces? We don’t know if mirrors are lying. We never know what we truly look like.
I just found this gem of a conversation. Frances had just turned four.
Frances: The ugly duckling is really a swan? The swan egg got accidentally into the duck nest? How could that have happened? That doesn’t make any sense…!
On this day in 2011, when Frances was merely four-years-and-one-month old, we had the following conversation:
Frances: Why do I have to go to preschool?
Me: Well, it’s to help you be okay spending time away from me when you go to junior kindergarten in September.
Frances: How long is junior kindergarten every day?
Me: Six hours.
Frances: How long is preschool?
Me: Two hours.
Frances: So how can preschool be helping me? It’s not.
Frances’s preferred documentary topics are diverse. Each topic’s phase is quite intense, lasting anywhere from weeks to months, during which period she learns a great deal.
It also means that I learn a great deal, too, because, after all, I am with her as she watches her docs.
Before Frances had come along, I couldn’t have told you what a terrapin is, how cute meerkats are, or what are the specific fertility issues afflicting the giant panda. I had no idea how wonderfully diverse architecture in the US and Canada can be, from where the Crown Jewels originate, or how many people on the planet have primordial dwarfism type II.
Of course, having children in and of itself is a learning process, but there’s just so much more to learn when Frances is nearby.
Among many poems that I’ve read with my daughter, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe really stands out.
I haven’t read it to her as often as Prufrock, but it’s a close second.
She loves the imagery and the musicality in The Raven.
She even named a giant Ugly Doll stuffed animal ‘Lenore’.
(Nowadays, her sense of the gothic can be seen in her appreciation of Tim Burton films: she loved Coraline, the Nightmare Before Christmas, and the Corpse Bride.)
Here is Wikipedia’s entry on The Raven.
Here is the poem itself on the Poetry Foundation’s site.
My eight-year-old daughter, in the car today, said:
“So many things amaze me in life — like why people chose cars and why they tamed dogs and horses. But it is also annoying — no matter what answer I come up with for why humans exist, it isn’t enough.”
“Read to me some of what you’re reading,” my not-quite-three-year-old would say at bedtime.
When she first asked, I thought that I would seize the opportunity to read something that she would find boring enough to fall asleep to while listening: Virgil’s Aeneid.
Unfortunately, as I read on and on, she grew interested in it. She’d actually foiled my plan to induce sleep by epic poem.
“Okay,” I thought to myself. “If I’m going to read something to her, I may as well read something that interests me.”
To my utter surprise, she loved it. She asked questions; she asked me to repeat words and to repeat lines and to repeat stanzas. I read through it more than once that night — then, I read it to her every night for years.
I wrote down many of her statements and questions about the poem — here are a few.
April 29, 2012 (5 years old):
Me: ‘Am not Prince Hamlet…nor was meant to be.’
Frances: I think he is lying; I think he IS the prince.
Me: Do you mean that he is more like those people than he realizes?
April 16, 2013 (5 years old):
Frances: Who is he talking to? Maybe a princess who is about to be married?
August 24, 2013 (6 years old):
Frances: Are there other voices, other songs of Prufrock?