By Esther C. Baird/Tri-Town Transcript columnist
First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript June 13, 2014
Dear school year, it’s time to end.
I’m over the folders and tests and memory work. If I have to call out one more spelling list, I will lie down in the flooded trails around Crooked Pond and allow myself to be eaten by mosquito larvae.
So when my first grade daughter asked me to come speak to her class about our ‘country of origin’ I took a deep breath.
“No,” is the answer I meant to say. “No, and by the way, your country of origin is Beverly Hospital!”
But I was overcome by guilt, (perhaps because I’m also done making lunches; whatever I’m packing is bad enough that twice last week a little friend bought my daughter a snack to compensate).
So, I said yes.
Yes, I’d talk about Scotland, which we originated from . . . a couple hundred years ago. I had the immigration date of my great-times-a-million grandfather, and my husband had visited Scotland and took a picture of himself wearing a kilt. How hard could a talk be?
And then I saw other, seemingly less begrudging, mothers talking about their countries of origin. Only they had originated from them like, last week. There was the little girl whose family moved from Taiwan, and two boys whose moms who had recently come from Brazil. They brought treats and balloons and talked about distant lands and foreign cities all with actual accents, because they’d originated – – recently. I couldn’t compete with that.
And then my daughter dropped this gem, “Mommy, when you come, can you please wear a pretty outfit and not put your hair in a crazy ponytail on top of your head?”
What words did my charming daughter allow to trip off her tongue? Suddenly I needed another cup of coffee lest I wipe my crazy ponytail all over the rotten banana I scrounged up for her lunch.
Clearly, I had my work cut out for me, so I took the tried and true research approach of waiting till the night before. Daughters of mine, watch and learn how to pull a fabulous report out of thin air. You must have determination, hard work, creativity . . . or Google and Keynote.
Armed with a set of really cool photos, some bagpipe music, some artifacts (my husband’s family tartan tie) and some secret weapon snacks, I showed up to the class – dressed and de-ponytailed. The first graders were antsy and wiggly. My pictures of castles on lakes held their attention for a negative amount of time. The bagpipe music caused one little boy to break into an interpretive dance and another to wander off to the reading corner – – perhaps looking for an escape hatch. My husband’s tie got wrapped around their throats as they passed it along. I was losing them.
So I put up a poem by Robert Burns, because, you know, first graders have a deep appreciation for famous poets. No? Well, they do have an appreciation for . . . pirates.
I roared into their fidgety group with my best Scottish brogue, “MY LUVE IS LIKE A RED RED RRRRRROSE!”
I kept growling my way through the entire poem. When I finished, hands shot up.
“Do you talk like that at home?”
“Are you a pirate?”
“How can you do that when you’re a girl not a boy?”
Then, so as not to lose momentum, I flipped to a photo of Walker Shortbread Rounds.
“Who wants a Scottish snack!?!?!?!”
I handed out cookies and a coloring sheet of the flag of Scotland, and looked at the teacher. “That’s all I have, I’m done.”
She was staring out the window, she’d been done days earlier. We are all ready for summer vacation.
Give me a beach with no homework, or a hot day at Stiles Pond. Give me summer, and I might even pack a tasty lunch.