Last night I got one of those rare glimpses of how siblinghood SHOULD be. One of those moments parents dream about but rarely happen in real life.
I did a fairly adequate job of putting everyone to bed last night. They got a bedtime snack, a story, AND got to pick where they wanted to sleep. Henry picked Ivy's bed in the basement (Ivy picked the cosleeper in our room), Mitchell picked the couch, and Violet picked the floor in her room. I find that when I have the guts to go ahead and let them sleep wherever they want, they usually fall asleep pretty fast. It's annoying when they pick to be in our room or the livingroom because that kind of puts a damper on mine and hubby's nighttime "adult" activities (no, no, not THOSE adult activities, I mean like eating Kempswiches and swilling Dr. Pepper while playing cribbage). I am pretty sure though that Mitch picks the livingroom for exactly those reasons. He likes to eavesdrop on us and beg for some of our snacks. Henry hasn't realized what kind of things his parents do at night so he picks the basement so he can be closer to us when we go to bed.
Anyways, everyone got tucked in bed and Mitchell informed me that he was really going to sleep in Violet's bed (since she wasn't using it anyways) but that he wanted to stay up and read on the couch until she fell asleep because she's annoying and loud (a fair evaluation). So Henry toddled downstairs and fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow, and Mitch started looking for a book. I had already packed up a few boxes of books so the picking was slim.
He turned to me, pointed to a faux-leather bound volume and asked "Is this a book of poetry?".
I looked at the title, shocked, "No buddy, that's not poetry, that's Edgar Allen Poe. Actually I think there are a few poems in that one, but mostly it's short stories." This was like a dream come true. I LOVE literature and poetry and all things related to the English language, but so far it seemed like Mitch was only interested in stuff like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (which I am fairly certain may have been written by the devil? I hate those books, but hey, at this point i'll go for anything that gets him to do some independent reading.) I looked through what was left on my shelves and found a large volume of American poetry and handed it to him.
"I like poetry", he said. "When I read the words it makes music in my head like a song."
"Well," I said, "Songs are just poetry with music added to them, so you're right on there." I pointed to a couple of poems in the book that were also songs - The Star Spangled Banner and America The Beautiful.
We sat down on the couch and he perused the poetry book while I sat next to him and worked on my knitting. He then decided to write his own poetry and invited me to help him (I enthusiastically agreed). Here's what we came up with together...
A possum, A blossom
A piece of cherry pie
A seashell on the shore
Just like a star up in the sky
Bright as a firefly
I was so proud I could burst. When I was a teenager and imagining what my kids would be like, what motherhood would be like, THIS is what I imagined, not all the other stuff.
After he got bored of writing poetry he asked me when we were going to start homeschooling and I said "Whenever you want." He decided he wanted to start right then. He made himself a math folder to keep his work-in-progress in, then asked if he could work on teaching Violet to read. Violet certainly wasn't asleep (she kept poking her head out of the door and looking at us) so I said "Sure, go ahead". He asked her if she wanted a lesson and she was bouncing up and down and grinning as she said "Yeah!". They went into the kitchen and Mitchell helped her spell some simple words like mom and dad with the magnetic letters. Then they called me in to see and I watched Violet put m-o-m on the fridge. It was adorable. After they tired of that, the hubby tucked Violet back into bed and we taught Mitchell how to play Pente. He did pretty well on my team (we battled Daddy) but then I played Daddy on my own a few rounds to show Mitch how to kick someone's butt at Pente. After a bit we tucked him into bed on the couch and went outside in the garage to have a beer in private, but it was really a great night. The kind of night that renews my faith in my kids and in my ability to mother them. Maybe I haven't completely screwed them up yet. Maybe there's still hope for our family :-)