………………………..>…>…>…>……………………the garden is white with snow
>…>…>………and the tracks of creatures pepper its stretch…<…<…<……’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
its powder dry composure brings surprise falls from telegraph lines above us, as we slide________________and……() o () pelt _____________() O () ………our way to school…………………………………………………………………….>…>…>…
I was lucky enough to see the legendary Michael Rosen perform at the South Bank on National Poetry Day, to the squeals and shouts of delight of the children sat on the floor at the very front of the stage in the Royal Festival Hall.
He was followed by the rainbow-drop-multi-sensory-poetry-experience that is Laura Dockrill, who had them shouting “Pain Au Chocolat”, with exaggerated and exuberant enunciation. Her cheery persona, spot on vernacular, combined with bewitching poems – the one about a boy going to live with his Nan was so evocative you could smell it- is perfect for engaging kids in the possibilities of poetry.
I may be doing a poetry workshop with my son’s class and this gave me plenty to think about. I will have to do some serious work on how to perform to and pitch poetry at a group of four and five year olds, and how best to facilitate some fun with words. I hope it goes ahead- it will be a great opportunity.
Although I haven’t written poetry for children (yet), Sam and I enjoy playing with language and making up rhymes and poems, songs, and silly phrases which make us laugh on a daily basis. His Granddad recently taught him all about limericks and they spent an afternoon constructing a great one between them.
So I was really pleased to see this article pop up as a link on someone’s Twitterfeed (apologies, I can’t remember whose) which is a piece written by Morag Styles, who may be the only Professor of Children’s Poetry around. I have borrowed the title for this post, I hope she doesn’t mind… The Case For Children’s Poetry can be read here.
My son ran into school this morning without a goodbye or a look behind him, despite complaints when he woke up that he didn’t want to go, and he would rather be at preschool. I think he’s settling in…
I, on the other hand, have been trying to work out how I am going to fit the huge workload that comes with the MA I have just begun into my day. How best to discipline myself so I can get my reading/writing done? How to fit this around school pick ups and housework? I’m still not sure yet…
I have lots of ideas for writing, all of which are, of course, completely over-ambitious, challenging and will take huge amounts of research. I’m a glutton for punishment, a lucky glutton.
At the beginning of 2008 I started a Five Year Plan. At the time I was wondering how I was going to cope as a single parent, and how I would ever be able to afford somewhere of our own to live, instead of relying on the generosity of my Dad. I think it helped me to feel like I was taking control of what, at the time, felt like a desperate situation.
I am now nearly finishing Year Four, and have ticked off ‘passing my driving test’ and ‘gaining a degree’ as well as smaller but just as important targets.
Next year, with luck, I will have completed my MA and the landscape will be diferent again. I will be starting a new Five Year Plan and I have been thinking about what might be on it.
I am thinking BIG (just don’t call me Stalin)
All of a sudden I have my degree result, am buying books for my MA, trying to get childcare in place so I can attend the course induction, and most importantly, settling my son into school.
After a great start he changed his mind, and decided he didn’t fancy going any more: “Send the uniform back Mum, I don’t want to wear it. I want to stay here with you.”
So I have had to play a chess game of feigned nonchalance and checkmate moves to cajole, guide and persuade my poor boy to school each day. There have been improvements over the last week- he can now put his uniform on by himself, and is starting to settle into the new routine. The walk/scoot to school is still accompanied by the mantra of “I don’t want to go to school” but today there is noticeably less repetition. He has been bouncing out the other end at 3.15 telling me it was “brilliant”, so I am not worrying too much.
My plans of ebaying and decluttering went to the wall (of course) amidst dealing with the administration concerned with the MA I am about to begin in creative writing. The reading list for one of the modules I am taking is long on heavy-duty critical theory- I can’t wait.
Last friday when I was able to log on and find out my degree result I sat shaking in front of my lap top for at least a couple of hours. I always dreamed of getting a first but had let go of it after being so poorly and finding the juggling of everything so intense and tricky to get all the work done in my final year. But I did it! I got a first class degree. As a single parent. I floated around the rest of the day, supremely happy. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to do it. It’s been tough and fantastic in equal amounts.
Now it’s back to work…
My son started school yesterday and came out at 3.15 saying “It was brilliant Mum!”
Surely what every parent wants to hear. I was so relieved.
But all week I have been feeling desperately sad – I feel bereft. Paradoxically, of course, I am also enjoying some time to get things done without juggling the needs of my bossy and exuberant four year old. It has been a shock to find myself reacting so strongly to this expected change, which we have been looking forward to, and so excited about.
I have been on my own for much of this week, with my father away on holiday, and was delighted yesterday, when my sister called early in the morning to wish us luck, and then visited last night, to see how he got on at school.
Starting school is a rite of passage, and these are the times where I still miss my Mum keenly, and wish I had her to tell me to buck my ideas up and get on with it.
Instead I am giving myself a metaphorical hug and acknowledging that Sam’s babyhood, and my experience of that wonderful part of motherhood is over, and we have new adventures to look forward to now.