« Reading Readiness | Main | Old Archives | Iron Chef Hubbard »

January 17, 2005

The Whole Chocolate Cake

Here are some thoughts from Naomi, Jeremy's Cousin. Her daughter Maren is a few months younger than Emma. It appears they share a similar style of reading. . .

One of the best ways to figure out what Maren is thinking is to eavesdrop on her when she "reads" books. It's one of her favorite activities - she picks up a book, wanders around the house, and recites stream-of-consciousness for, sometimes, as long as a half hour. This afternoon while I was cooking supper, she had picked up one of Mennonite Mission Network's booklets on "Purpose Driven Mennonites," and was ambling along talking about heaven, and God, and death (not too far amiss, I suppose, for a church document). I was paying more attention to my curried chickpeas than I was to her, so she made me jump when she appeared suddenly and seriously under my elbow.

"Mom" she told me, "When you and Dad die, then I can do WHATEVER I want." Then she grinned. Broadly. Perhaps it was the thought of heaven that led her to this subject matter?

So I put aside my chickpeas and squatted down to recite one of my favorite poems (by Gwendolyn Brooks) to her. I took a little liberty with the words when I told it to her, but I'll give you the verbatim edition here:

To Be Grown Up

The whole chocolate cake can be yours.

To be grown up means
you don't get a report card.
You don't face a father, a mother.

The walls of the cage are gone.
The fortress is done and down.

To be grown up means
the Bill will be paid by you.

To be grown up means
you can get sick and stay sick.
Your legs will not love you. They'll fail.

No icy sidewalks for sliding.

No grandmother to fix you big biscuits.
No grandfather to sing you "Asleep in the Deep."

Once Maren seemed sufficiently convinced of my irreplacable importance in her life, I went back to my cooking. But even though I was finished with her, she was not finished with me. She understood my lesson well enough, she just had a slightly different twist on its outworkings in her life: "Mom, could you teach me how to call (great aunt) Dorothy Elaine and Aunt Ellen on the phone, Mom? Cuz, Mom, I need to know how to call them to help me when you and Daddy die." Then she went back to wandering around with her book, the text of which strangely enough went something like this: "(note to self) Learn how to drive the car."

So all you would-be adults out there, remember: 1. Take it easy on the chocolate cake. 2.Contingency plans can be helpful. 3. Wandering around the house uttering whatever comes to mind is one of those privileges, like sliding on the ice, that can be wise to give up once you pass a certain age


Posted by jennifer at January 17, 2005 08:35 PM


Who is this kid and how did she get this way? :-)

Posted by: John at January 17, 2005 09:43 PM

That would be... Naomi, Jeremy's cousin in-law (Jason, Naomi's husband is actually my cousin).

At any rate, it is wonderful to see my daughter, as well as Maren, playing so imaginatively. This is such a healthy and fun part of childhood development.

Posted by: Jeremy at January 18, 2005 08:37 AM