A colleague recently told me, “I’m not nearly as good as you are at getting my kids out to cultural events.” I knew instantly that my own kids might prefer to live in her house. You see, I love arts and humanities and I have this twisted parental attitude that developed years ago while reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting that says, exposure to said events will result in increased synapse firing for developing brains. In other words, what I love must be good for them!
Last week during our vacation we got to the point where my sons’ eyes rolled to the back of their heads and they cried, “no more museums!”. Then, we shifted. Instead of a museum, we traipsed them through Little Havana to stand in a park where they couldn’t hear a word of English spoken, where men played dominos at rapid speed, and where they could taste fried plantains and ropa vieja. Disguised as a meal and an outing, culture was suddenly more bearable.
Shel Silverstein helped me do the same thing with poetry. Poems disguised as funny tales about tasting poison or eating one’s parents wove their way into our bedtime routines and paved the road for less animated folks like Billy Collins and Ted Kooser. Granted, when Billy Collins visited our town earlier this year, I had to drag two of three to see him but by the same margin, I also had a kid buckled in two as Billy read a line from his poem, Hangover, that spoke to each kid being quizzed on the history of Marco Polo and then executed by drowning. (Boy humor, I guess.)
I don’t know that my sons will grow to appreciate season tickets to the symphony or a civil discourse debate regarding national health care policy but if they don’t, it will be a preference developed from experience. As I wrote this, I was delighted to find a video of one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, reading her poem about taking her son out for a cultural event. Her plain language lyrics snare all that is trying and humorous about this endeavor. It is National Poetry Month. Find a poem that you love and share it.
- 2 Tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup plain couscous
- 1-1/3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots (or other favorite)
- 3 Tablespoon dried currants
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
- 2 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
- Ground black pepper