Thursday, January 06, 2005

2005 First Friday [views]


Friday Christmas Eve, I sit at a tamalada with two little girls who share their book of children's poetry with me. One is a twelve-year-old 6th grader, the other is just seven. I have known their mother since she was six months old, so I have a special love for these little girls, sabes?

These little girls can read! I tell you. And not just the words. Especially the older one. Veronica, she can read, explain, listen, interpret. What joy to listen as these kids use poetry.

A peanut. A railroad track. A train comes. Toot toot. Peanut butter. Veronica reads the words assiduously. She laughs when she springs the surprise ending, with a big warm smile and sparkly eyes. We chat about the peanut just ambling along the railroad tracks on a sunny day. Do a gesture with your fingers. Then make the horn sound like a horn, "toot! toot!" Veronica now does an oral interpretation of the poem. She pantomimes the ambling gait of a carefree peanut, two parallel fingers suggest the railroad track, does a great toot! toot!, and laughs the surpise, almost rising from her seat, enjoying the drama she's pulled off the page.

She reads another one, a nagging mommy poem. She gets the voices just right, the warnings, the scolds, the silliness that adults threaten kids with, "That's the last time I tell you," goes the poem, goes the mom, goes the dad, and of course, it won't be the last time they have to tell her. Veronica shudders and smiles at the same time, the poem keeping it all in perspective.

Veronica's little sister takes the book. More stolidly but just as eloquently, Ari reads. And does the interp, too. She loves the poems, she loves the language. These girls love reading. They have a sense of audience, an ear for language. Dang, it doesn't get much better than this, I think, then it does.

Veronica comes back from wherever she's wandered off to, and we read a Frost poem together. "And I, I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference." Veronica reads the stanza with its difficult words, and the famous line. I look at her and tell her, "Veronica, one day this will make sense to you, the choices you made, the paths you will choose to follow." Little Veronica puts on a serious mien and nods assent.

Thank you, Veronica and Arianna, for making that Friday the best one of the year. Always a bit of a cynic when I wish gente a happy new year, this year I know for sure it is, in fact, a happy new year.

Michael V. Sedano


Manuel Ramos said...

Nicely put, Michael. Reading to our two year old grandson is one of the real pleasures in my life these days. He picks the books, knows some of the stories by heart, and has a focus and intensity that I envy. And when he laughs -- beautiful. Quite often his response at the end of a book is "Again?" Can't beat that. Imagine the joy when he's able to read the books to me. Thanks for posting this.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Sedano. In the spirit.
I work with 1st-3rd grade mexicanos and have a million stories like this, but I won't tell you any of those, here.
Instead I'll tell you about my 1st-grade niece who, at every family fiesta, will always answer "Yes," if I ask, "Do you want to read me a story."
There's like a half million raza at these parties--typical Chicano sized--and nobody's house is big enuf to hold 'em all. We're always squeezed, bumping into each other, noise donde quiera.
But no matter the intensity of the surroundings, the niece reads a book with me. Never conveniently picking out a real short one. Never agreeing to my suggestion of "Let's finish it later." She's one of your, Sedano, read-razas.
N.B. See? This post of yours is why I enjoy passion over pontificating.