“I am first grade book report hell.” That’s precisely what I told two inquiring fellow gym members that questioned my missing of yoga class, again. Apparently, my dedication to yoga has been in question. What really should be questioned is my sanity. As I drove around, doing this week’s best frenzied Lucille Ball impression, I was pondering just who was doing the assigned book report.
Madie’s teacher sent home the book report assignment on October 1st. We have until the 20th to select a seasonally appropriate book, read it, and then create a poster board presentation of the book. The presentation is to include the basics; title, author, a general drawing depicting book inspired events, and three sentences about the book. Sounds easy enough. There was also a tag line; “Be creative!” I think this was directed to me and me alone. After the “All About Me” project the first week of school and then the whole “Career Day” outfit and presentation, I believe we have not demonstrated enough creative “bling”. Something tells me that no matter what Madie hauls in on the 20th there will be tons more creative stuff. However, if a kid comes in with a PowerPoint presentation, hand-held laser beam pointer, or an iPad; we’re going to have to transfer schools.
I started with the book selection part and discovered we were already stymied. I am a terrible judge of Madie’s reading level. Perhaps it has to do with the fact most of the books seem about the same level to me- some have more words and more pages- but the words themselves don’t seem all that different. Secondly, Madie tends to play dumb. You can put down “playing dumb” as my 128th pet peeve. It drives me nuts to see girls play dumb, especially my own. So I asked the teacher for a recommendation. She directed me to the “Junie B.” series. As we perused the book store’s seasonal display and she selected a four page board book, I introduced her teacher’s suggestion. The “Junie B.” books may be new to me, but not to Madie. Her eyes widened, “Ms. Londay thinks I can read that?” As I confidently reinforced the teacher’s belief, I looked at the book. It was 77 pages and listed has being a 2/3 Grade reading level. I looked at the book and then to Madie; apparently we’ve been having some serious sand-bagging during reading times at home. So we bought it and picked up a few others which appeared to be about halfway between Madie’s board book pick and her teachers novella. Home we went.
Reading is something that can only be done for about 10-15 minutes per day. After that Madie’s brain leaves her body completely and she practically levitates as she can no longer hold her body in any one place. I end up moving the book around to keep it in her line of sight. Together, we look like some odd performance art/dance; her twitting about and me swinging around, book outstretched, and hunched over. When all this starts, I require copious amounts of wine or I start nail picking, knuckle cracking, and deep breathing. We could probably benefit from a referee. So I’ve finally learned, even if she insists we read more, 15 minutes is the cutoff. In said 15 minutes, we cruised through three, almost four whole pages of “Junie B.” I’m no first grader (you should see her math assignments) but even I can tell you that at this rate it was going to take a lot longer than 20 days to read this book. Forget the report part, we’d still be reading the day it was due. I switched us to our backup book. 34 less frustrating pages with pretty, colorful pictures. Apparently, there is a difference between a grade 2/3 level and that of a first grade level. We managed the whole book in one 25 minute session without any bad behaviors (from either one of us).
The report itself started innocently enough with my reading the directions and our mini brain-storming session. Before you knew it, my idea of using an orange poster board, cut into the shape of a pumpkin, had morphed. We were now planning to construct a giant red kite (we loved the beautiful picture about the wind and the kids out flying kites). Our kite would have a tail constructed of smaller shapes, representative of some of the other things in the book. So now I’m on deck to construct a red kite, a smaller orange pumpkin, a yellow leaf, and a brown swallow (the birds that flew south for the winter in our book). I’m no artist. The swallow looks more like a bat. I don’t keep reams of lined paper for first graders, and I don’t have a closet full of poster board. Three stores later, I finally manage colored card stock for the tail shapes, the lined paper and white poster board. There has been an apparent run on red.
So while my gym friends sat smugly sipping their green tea, having found their inner balance in yoga, I explained all this to them. Nothing says “kindergarten mom” like the kind of calm I watch drain from their faces as they realized that next year, they too may find it harder to get to yoga when they are running around trying to construct a book report!