Monday, March 19, 2007

Good Times

Hope your weekend was good. Mine was.

Went to a Saint Patrick's day party. I think it was my first ever. I've never been much for this particular holiday, what with most of my heritage coming from Poland and Germany. I'm not much of a drinker any more, and even when I was, this had a bit of an 'amateur hour' feel to it. Besides, I tend to ignore holidays that don't have presents, turkey, or both.

But this year, Saint Paddy's fell on a Saturday, and moreover, on a Saturday that I didn't have any freelance commitments, so I went over to Nancy's place with the kids. Nancy's half Polish, half Irish, but she tends to favor her Irish side, especially on days like this. She lives right up the street. When the kids get home from school they call me, and they call Nancy, and let us both know they're home. If there's an emergency, they call Nancy, who can be there in two minutes if needs be.* Plus, I've worked out a sometimes babysitting gig with her: she watches the kids some evenings in exchange for tickets to upcoming hockey games.** Sometimes she watches them on off nights and I get her ducats for the next home game, sometimes she takes the kids to the game on the night they play.

Anyways, Nancy has a big shindig every Saint Patrick's day, and we were invited, so off we went. It's a fairly hard-core Irish crowd, with some of the older folks being first generation--or even off the boat. There was lots of Guinness, soda bread, and corned beef and cabbage. But before the food was brought out, Nancy asked a number of people to read poems from different Irish poets. She even asked one of her younger neices to read, and my daughter volunteered to recite a poem.

Or one of the poems that she has written. It could have been either.

I wasn't around when she volunteered to do this. Nancy announced it to the crowd as 'a poem she'd written,' but she sometimes gets minor details wrong. Hell, she sometimes gets major details wrong too. And while I was proud of my daughter for volunteering, I was a bit worried.

My nine-year-old daughter is a poet. She's been writing poetry for a few years now, and we've read a few poets together as well. She's a big fan of Ogden Nash. She has a number of poems that she's written that she has memorized, and a few that we've written together, and these are fine little dittys.

But she also knows a few whose origins are somewhere in the murky past. I believe, more or less, in age-appropriate language and reading materials for my kids, but I will on occasion call up a couplet that might not please everybody, especially some stodgy old folks with provincial ideas about childrearing. Nothing that she knew was in the 'There once was a man from Nantucket' range, but one of the couplets she knows is this one:

Spring has sprung
Fall has fell
Winter's here
And it's colder than
A harmless enough thing, but perhaps not the most appropriate thing to come out of a nine-year-old's mouth after a few stanzas of Yeats and Heaney.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I listened to the readings, waiting for her turn. The place was packed, and Nancy had brought up all of the readers to the front of the room. There was no way I would be able to go and talk to her about her poem without making it look exactly like what it was: a father vetting his daughter's choice of poetry. And I wasn't going to do that.

Verses and stanzas proceeded apace, and with a flourish, announced my daughter as the pentultimate poetry presenter.

And my beautiful daughter, with a smile on her face, recited a little ditty:

There once was an Irish leprechaun
That everyone thought was so much fun.
But everyone, both young and old
Kept on trying to get his gold.
That is, until Saint Patrick's day
When the leprechaun gave his gold away.

James Joyce it ain't, but it's pretty damned good for a third-grader. Especially when she delivered it in a dead-on Irish brogue.

After I hugged her and gushed over her for a while, I asked about the poem--mostly, because I had never heard it before. With a shrug, she explained it to me: "It's just something I wrote in the first grade. I had to do it in a brogue to make the first stanza work."

So if you heard a strange popping sound coming from the Great Lakes area early Saturday evening, that was me bursting with pride. Plus, there were a number of cute women there who just fawned over her (and me, collaterally), so that was a bonus.

In case you were wondering what my son was doing during all of this, he was consuming about a pound and a half of carrots. That was just about all he ate on Saturday, after he read that eating a lot of carrots could turn your skin orange.

And I can't tell you how glad I was that it didn't take effect in the middle of a room full of Irish Catholics.

My son, the genius.


*My office is a twenty-minute drive from my house; she's a writer who works from her home.

**Working broadasts for the local hockey club is one of my more regular freelance gigs; and part of the deal is tickets.


Blogger Jessica said...

Babysitting for hockey tickets, parties on Patty's day, third-graders with funny accents, and gorging on carrots--your life is the stuff of poetry.

12:04 AM  
Blogger terry said...

gee, i wonder where she gets the writing talent from...

1:33 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Is he orange yet?

8:25 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

Okay....I'm pretty sure we're not related but most of the time when you write about your kids I start wondering.

Just sayin.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

LOL @ the genius son. I think he'll turn orange faster if he blends them and rubs the juice on his skin. If he eats enough to turn orange, he'll be too sick from malnutrition to enjoy it anyway... if only 1 1/2 lbs could do it, I'd have had an orange kid years ago.

11:32 AM  
Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

corned beef and cabbage!!!!
This dish is a great hit in Jamaica (one of the upsides of colonialism)
and I'm missing it now that you mention it.

Your daughter is adorable. And so is your son. All the best to him but he's got a way to go I think.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

I'm glad you had a nice weekend. Gotta love the Irish! (Alright, I'm a little biased. I'm 3/4 Irish, 1/4 Norwegian)

Great poetry! My daughter writes a lot and lets me read little. She gets her talent from her dad as well.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Not a fan of St.Paddy's day, can't put me finger on it but don't dig it.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Glad you had a PARTY of sorts to attend.

Enjoyed the writing~

Orange yet????

10:35 AM  
Blogger cadbury_vw said...

how is the young orange man now? did he "sashay" out later (yeah - i know - it's a stretch)

i am glad that you were able to get out and about. too much time spent in your own head is deleterious.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Miss 1999 said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time at the party! And I must say, your daughter, being only 9, is very talented, and defintely a bright young lady!

I SO miss St. Patty's Day parties. I used to go to Bennigan's every year, until ours closed :0(

10:28 PM  

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