Friday, June 19, 2009

School Field Trip

Today I helped chaperone Marin's class on a field trip to Boston. We all rode the train. I was surprised at how popular Marin was with the kids. They all seemed to want to sit with her and talk with her.

By the by I tuned into these conversations. To my surprise, it was all about Africa. For example:

Little girl eating strawberries: "Did you eat strawberries in Africa?"
Little boy playing his Nintendo DS: "What Nintendo games did you play in Africa?"
Older boy: " I saw giraffes and lions in a zoo. Did you have them in Africa?"
Older girl: "Did you watch Hannah Monatana in Africa?"

The kids are totally curious about Africa. And some of the questions they asked were so far out of context, it was hilarious.

Snapper Soup???

While driving the kids to school, we crested the hill to see a car in the middle of the road, its emergency flashers on, and a large dark lump in the road in front of the car. As we got closer, I realized it was a really huge snapping turtle. Yippee! Science lesson for the kids!

I pulled the car over, unbuckled the kids, and headed for the snapper. Visualize now, I am doing my best Bill Nye the Science Guy. I'm telling the kids about the shell, pointing out the claws, showing how he snaps at a stick, telling what he eats, and describing how I am going to lift him by his shell and toss him back into the brook so he does not get run over. I go on and on and on, finally pausing for a breath and to ask if the kids have any questions I did not answer.

After a pregnant pause, the kids lifted their eyes from the turtle to me and asked, matter of factly, and at the same time "Can we eat him?" I should have known.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

National Geographic

Did anyone read the June 2009 issue?

There is an article about food scarcity beginning on page 26. As usual, there is a photo of a skeletal infant Ethiopian crying his eyes out from hunger but there are no tears because he is so dehydrated.

I walk into the kitchen this morning and Marin is sitting at the table with the magazine open to the photo I just described.

She asked me "Daddy, what is this?"

I said "Marin, do you know that family?"

Marin "No"

Me "Do you know what that photo is?"

Marin "It's not fair and it is scaring me"

Me "Do you know what it is?"

Marin "It's an Africa baby who doesn't have food. It's not fair. He's sad because his belly is hungry. His face is scaring me. I don't want to be hungry again."

It's conversations like this that send so many thoughts whirling through my head - like

1. Why don't we just sell everything and move to Ethiopia and devote ourselves to helping there?
2. Why don't the environmentalists give up their wacky 'corn for fuel' mirage and send some food overseas instead?
3. How can I make sure my kids excel in fields like science or medicine that can help some of these poor people?
4. How can a six year old engage in deep conversations as often as Marin does? What other ghosts does she carry?

Spring Soccer 2009

Marin played spring soccer a year ago and was painful to watch. She was slow, passive, clueless and jsut happy to be out in a field with her girlfriends. This year is totally different. She hates to lose, loves to score, loves to play D, and is just passionate about this sport. Here are a few examples,

Week 2: Our team got killed and Marin was totally ticked off. She refused to leave the playing fields until I got her into another game. I looked around, found a team that was understaffed, and asked if Marin could sub in. The coach was psyched, and marin was psyched.

Week 3: Same situation, but this time Marin got to play with 3rd graders. She loved playing with kids who kind of understood the game and she learned a ton.

Week 4: Practice got rained out. Marin went upstairs and cried for 15 minutes because she could not play.

Week 5: Our team finally jelled. We scored about 15 goals and Marin scored about 5 of them. She was so excited. I gotta admit, I was really proud watching her take the ball end to end, her braids bobbing around, dodging defenders, and just powering the ball into the net. She looked like one of those Jamaican Olympic sprinters. It was cool. Then on defense, Marin would start screaming NO! NO! NO! NO! whenever an opposing player got into the box. I think she scared the hell out of a few of those kids.

Week 6: Our team had the last game, so there was no other game for Marin to get subbed into. She was looking around the field for another team to play for and everyone was leaving. Marin looked at me and asked "What are we going to do?" I told her we played late today and there are not more games, so let's go home. She said "Well, we're not going home. You stay here and practice with me." So Marin and I kicked goals for another 45 minutes before she was ready to go home.

We are having a ball. Both Marin and Emmy are great kids.