Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Welcome to the jungle (dispatches from the third grade)!

"Welcome to the jungle."
Upon entering the classroom, the teacher smiles and Eliot greets me with a reassuring "Welcome to the jungle, Mommy. I'm not joking. Our school is basically in a jungle." So she's not being metaphorical...good to know. And an equally reassuring: "We have lots of questions because we want to know stuff."
Actually, I love talking to kids, especially while my daughter is still excited about the idea of her mom coming to her class. "Are you happy I'm coming to your class tomorrow to speak about being an author, Eliot?" "You think I'm happy? I've been waiting for this moment my whole life. Or at least since second grade."(She is sometimes prone to exaggeration, like her mother.) Frankly, I can't imagine my 12 year old being that thrilled.
We discussed writing, editing, the many people involved in publishing just one book, and related topics such as royalties (using ice cream as an example added relevance). I learned they all know what expat means "to live in Singapore but come from somewhere else," that even though none of them like the cold, they unanimously agreed "the thing they would like most would be for it to snow in Singapore," although conceding "it is easier to make plans when it's sunny."
They all have favorite books they are reading, think the biggest difference back home is that "there they wear coats," and they have pretty strong opinions about kindergarteners: "They jump in the mud, are way smaller, and don't know much." So, notwithstanding my apprehension about meeting what I suspected would be my toughest crowd yet (including my harshest critic, a kid who customarily greets me in the morning, demanding: "Why is your book so expensive?"(Speak to the distributor), it all went well. Now, all I have to do is wait until school is out so I can find out from Eliot which of her baby photos I shouldn't have shown :)

"Are those candy canes in your bag for us?"

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