The day began with Polish lessons, with Babcia taking over for this particular round. This has its advantages, to be sure, the main one being her inability to speak English. Since the Girl can speak Russian, the only language Babcia and L have in common is Polish, so it forces the language out of L, squeezes it out of every little necessity.
Once that was out of the way, it was playtime. The Girl’s favorite play location of late has been the livingroom couch, somewhat transformed.
“It’s a fort! An E-proof fort!”
Sometime tells me that this will soon be a favorite of E, as well. He certainly stayed in the “fort” for a long time, and he seemed content the whole time, as did everyone else. The OCD version of Tata, though, was going just a little crazy with the mess. Good clean fun doesn’t really exist with a six-year-old and a toddler.
In the evening, we decided it was time we finally went to Hollywild’s famous Christmas light safari (their term, not mine). We’d tried some years ago, but we’d given up and turned around after wandering about in the middle seemingly of nowhere for long enough to drive me batty.
It’s a strangely American concept: set up an incredible number of lights — snow men, rocking horses, various Christmas scenes, various winter scenes — and let people drive their cars around in the display.
“What a waste of gas!” some non-Americans (and likely some Americans as well) might suggest. “Why not get out and walk — you missed a chance for good exercise.”
And that’s probably true, but this evening was particularly cold, and the Boy would not have fared well in such cold weather: he gets sick just thinking about getting sick. No, he gets sick with anyone around him thinking that he might get sick. It’s suggestive illness.
And so we played along (as if we had a choice) and drive through the presentation, behaving perfectly cordially with all the other drivers (what a change) and patiently oohing and ahhing at all the right spots.
“Look at the reflection!” L pointed out, right before Babcia did the same in Polish. Or was it the reverse?
In the middle of the safari was the Enchanted Deer Forest, which was an odd term for the plot of muddied, treeless ground all the cars wandered about in as if they migrating animals, separated and lost from their herd.
The enchanted deer part, though, was easy to see. They clumped around cars and ate from people’s hands, walking in front of slowly-moving cars without a care.
We tried to get a few to come to our car, but the closes we came was a short, semi-attentive stare.
To get really close to the animals, we had to get out of the car and into Santa’s Village. Who knew Santa had camels and bison and strange cattle?
The Boy, though was strangely apathetic about the animals. He was much more interested in running, running, running. And falling. And running again,.
“We’ll come back in a couple of years,” K laughed as we headed back to the car, “When the Boy is interested in more than just running.”
“I think it’s about time we take over the Thanksgiving dinner.” K and I were talking about what we would be doing this year, what plans we thought the Elders might have/desire. Christmas Eve had always been our responsibility, and the Elders sort of took Thanksgiving by default. But this year, we decided to charge, make plans, and cook dinner ourselves and invite the Elders as opposed to the opposite. More to the point, K always takes are of Christmas Eve (by and large), so I decided this year I would do the whole Thanksgiving dinner myself.
The morning’s weather might have seemed like an omen for the less convinced. Snow in late November, in South Carolina?
Before Thanksgiving? Yet the chill in the air somehow made the work go easier: a mental thing I guess. What else can you do but stay inside? What else can you do while inside but cook?
And so I started. First, the garnish: cranberry sauce with dried cherries and a few dried blueberries.
Butternut squash soup, freestyle. I looked at some recipes, but none of them had the I-don’t-know-what I was looking for. So I made my own recipe, which included leftover ricotta cheese and some curry powder.
By the time I was ready to move on to stuffing, the snow had stopped, the sky had cleared, and the dusting of white on the ground had disappeared, as had L’s excitement.
“If it keeps snowing today, and tomorrow, and maybe Saturday and Sunday, maybe we’ll be out of school Monday!” I thought that we might be lucky if the snow lasts until the afternoon, but I said nothing.
By then, I was busy with the dressing, using a recipe I’d found online that included the magic, attention-getting word: sausage.
Two casseroles popped into and out of the oven as well, and by the time we were putting the kids to bed, I’d started the final element for the day, the giblet gravy.
Tomorrow, the potatoes, the green beans with shallots and almonds, and something else. Seems I’m missing something. Oh well. Hopefully we can live without whatever it is…
Students’ drawings of Queen Mab.
O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider’s web,
The collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
First, not all apologies begin with I’m sorry. In fact, some of the most graceful and moving apologies have ended with those words.
Second, and more significantly for you, not all utterances including “I’m sorry” are in fact apologies. For example, if you were to get in trouble with a teacher yet feel that you had done nothing, saying “I’m sorry you think that I…” only feels like an apology because it includes those sometimes-deceptive words. It is, in fact, an accusation.
Mildly amused and annoyed,
Journal reading: sifting through the layers…
I understand you didn’t really like the sonnet assignment. That’s fine: not every assignment has to be to your personal liking or approval. Understand, though, that, because this is not a poetry writing class, I had no intention of grading it with the kind of severity that would result in a bunch of failing grades. It was the struggle of writing in iambic pentameter that I was after, as well as the experience of having to think about each and every word as you wrote. That’s probably not something you’ve ever done before, but you’ll write plenty of things in your life that you should consider word by word.
But, you didn’t like it. Perhaps you even thought you couldn’t do it. As a solution, you decided to bounce around the internet for a while until you found a sonnet that you thought you could pass off as your own, then you typed it up and attempted to do just that.
I wish you had spoken to me about this earlier: I could have given you some pointers to help you not get caught. But you are caught. Still, in the spirit of charity, I’ll share the pointers anyway.
- Be aware that I have taught English for a long time. I know how eighth graders sound, even the most gifted, when they’re writing. I know what kind of topics they choose. I know what kind of vocabulary they’re likely to use. So at least choose a sonnet that sounds like a kid wrote it, not a hormonally challenged adult. With that much experience, I have a pretty strong intuition about what is and isn’t from the pen of an eighth grader.
- Understand that I know your personal writing voice. It’s not just that I know how eighth graders write; I know how specific eighth graders — including you — write. I know what kind of ideas you’re likely to write about and which ideas might never cross your mind. I’ve given you standardized testing that provides me with ample information about what kinds of words you’re likely to understand and to use in your own writing.
- I expect it. I know someone will do this, and I read every paper with the thought that, no matter who the author, there’s a latent (don’t pawn off work with that word in it: I know you don’t know what it means) chance of someone trying to pull one over on me.
- I’ve caught them all. Every single one. Remember the Terminator? That’s me. Only without the bulging muscles. Or the Austrian accent.
- Make sure you know all the words in your plagiarized work. It’s awfully telling when a teacher uses a word (intentionally, of course) that you’ve used in your work only to receive blank looks from the one person who used the word (a word like, say, “latent”) in “her” work. (I put her in quotes because, well, you understand.)
- Choose a sonnet that’s about a topic that the average eighth grader would be interested in. I know you personally, so it’s not just a matter of an abstract idea: I know what type of thing you’re likely to write about. Burning passion is not one of them. No eighth grader would write about that topic, especially you.
- Finally, I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: make sure it sounds like an eighth grader. Eighth graders to speak of anyone’s “wanton fiery beauty.” Eighth graders don’t write poems with final lines beginning “pleasure me.”
With these ideas in mind, I’m sure you’ll be more successful in your next efforts to act as a thief and pass off someone else’s work as your own.
Your Disappointed but Not Surprised Teacher
- Chips are yummy!
- How is it very hot with the sun?
- His chip is on his chin.
- That is such a good way to chop.
- How is it very hot outside?
- That is a very big chip and chin.
- With a chip and a chin you can do a lot.
- Chop that very big carrot with a talking knife.
- I like sentences!!!!!!
When L began speaking Polish, we made a video of her saying her first word.
Now that the Boy is beginning to speak, we thought we’d do the same.
With the same word.