Tuesday, December 8, 2009


One of the many fun things about having a child is that you get a second chance to remember great books and fun things you learned in school. Of course you have to struggle -- again -- through boring stoopid stuff you learned in school, too. But sometimes homework is fun.

This week, Alison has been reading Sarah Plain and Tall and coming home with worksheets that ask her to interpret parts of the book. I remembered the movie with Glenn Close more than the book, but what I had forgotten was that Sarah was from Maine and she said "ayuh" instead of "yes" and had some mannerisms that I see in my Maine family.

Ali was struggling over a particular question that asked why Papa had forgotten the words to the songs he'd sang with their mother. (She died in childbirth. He was struggling to raise two children and Sarah answered his newspaper ad for bride. She traveled from Maine to the Great Plains because her brother had married and she was out of a job. It was back in "olden times." These days Sarah would have taken over her brother's business, kicked out the floozy and become a gazillionaire by the sea.)

But anyway, I was trying to get Ali to come up with the answer of why Papa didn't sing anymore, though he'd sang all the time with Mama, and it just wasn't working. So I tried personalizing it.

"OK, Ali. Just think about it this way. If I died, would you want to make cookies anymore?" I asked.

We were at the kitchen counter sitting on bar stools. She'd been fidgeting in her chair, laying across it and hanging like a sloth, looking for any diversion available to the homework. She looked up at me, horrified.

"Mommy! I don't want you to die!" she gasped.

"I'm not going to die, honey. But if I did, do you think you'd want to make cookies and decorate them anymore?"

Her eyes watered up. "No!" she said, ""It would make me too sad." Her little voice broke when she said sad, and she scrambled up and over to hug me.

"So why do you think Papa doesn't sing anymore? Didn't he used to do that with Mama?" I asked.

She brightened up and loosened her stranglehold just slightly. "I get it!" she said and set to scribbling.

"Ayuh," I thought, just a tiny bit weepy myself.

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