Mother of the Year


It is official. I am mother of the year. And here is why.

Two weeks back, my dear Jack was given a language arts assignment. He was to pick a poet and then do a biographical research project on said person. Though Jack is an avid reader, he does not tend to love language arts assignments, particularly when they involve writing. I know. They all involve writing.

Overwhelm struck him over the head, and he declared that there were NO poets he could possibly study.

"Um, Jack, you have always loved Shel Silverstein."

"God, Mom, you are totally right. I'm doing Shel Silverstein."

I smiled peacefully. I imagined we had successfully hurdled all obstacles and that at some point I would read a nice piece about Shel.

Next day: "Mom, there are no books about Shel Silverstein in my school library."

"Doodle, you need to check the public library then."

"I did, Mom. Nothing there."

"Jack, when do you need the biography?"


Mother of...WHY do kids inflict such pain on their parents?

"Jack, what do you suggest?"

"Well, Amazon."

Amazon had three biographies. One had three pages. Literally. I don't understand (but maybe now I do). Another received horrible reviews. The last scored a fairly mediocre 3.5 stars. But, it was our only choice.

"Jack, I guess we can order this but it will, obviously, not be here by tomorrow."

"Mom, we are not supposed to buy the book."


"Jack, please email your teacher and ask her advice."

Dear Jack, As you know, I was concerned about the lack of available information about Shel Silverstein. If your parents are comfortable buying the biography, you may go in that direction. You will need to have caught up by Monday. -Mrs. M

So, this was news to me, re: the conversation they had ALREADY HAD ABOUT THE SHEL INFO DEARTH. Mother of Mary! But now we're really behind and so after reading the reviews, Tom and I bought the dang book.

Saturday: the book arrives. "Jack, please start reading. You're a little behind."

"Ok, Mom."

This morning: "Jack, what have you learned about Shel?"

"Well, his real name is Sheldon, and he is from Chicago."

Excuse me people, is that $12 of information? Methinks not. But it was carpool time, and so we hurried to get ready. 

10:08am: I am wrapping presents, making cookies, and attempting to move at a slower-than-manic pace. I receive an email from Jack's teacher.

Hi Emily, I took a look at Jack’s bio on Shel Silverstein this morning. I was trying to help him determine which chapters would be most beneficial since he will not have enough time to read the entire book before the project is due. However, as I skimmed the chapters I realized that I would not be comfortable recommending any portion of the book. As it turns out, Shel Silverstein has a very interested past! He was quite involved with Playboy and there are a lot of references to sex and drugs throughout the book. There is also a lot of profanity. I do not have a problem with him reading the book as long as you are aware of this and feel comfortable answering some difficult questions. I explained my reservations to Jack in a very general sense and asked him to bring the book home to you to review. Let me know what you decide. Although Jack’s project will most likely be a bit skimpy, I think he can move forward without reading the biography. We will make it work. Thank you, Mrs. M


If y'all think that I did not simultaneously throw up a little for having sent a lengthy drug- and profanity-laced porn book into a Quaker fifth grade and laugh until I nearly peed and cringed because I really did read the reviews but clearly not well and it looks like I threw some money at my son's slight problem-o-laziness, well, I did. I did all of those things. At the same time. For a while.

I called my mother. We agreed this was the best of this sort of story since the children were returned by the FBI years ago for sneaking out to go find pinecones at 6am. I called two of my best friends. They wheezed and agreed it was a solid fail.

People, parenting is hard. It is always something. Who knew Shel was into such exciting things? Perhaps the school library as they have NO books on him which really should have been some sign to me.

In any case, this is pretty funny actually. And it's been lovely to guffaw like a lunatic. Hope this gives you a case of the shaking-chuckles too. It's good for us. Lordy knows most of us could use some lightness.