Monday, May 24, 2021

A Poem by and an Interview with My Daughter

Today is one of the many Catholic holidays that are national celebrations here in Switzerland yet totally off my radar. That's why it came as a surprise to me that no one has school or work today. So instead of finishing my post in progress, I'm going to incorporate my daughter into today's offering, leveraging blogging into a bonding activity. We'll soon learn if I'm brilliant or just desperate. This post will take the form of an interview, the subject being what it is like to grow up with a raging Jane Austen fan for a mother. She frequently composes poems, usually fast expressions of her feelings. This is what she jotted down when I asked her about Austen. It is entitled "I Don't Know."

I don't understand.

My thoughts just can't land.

I don't know.

My brain wobbles to and fro.

When I don't think,

My thoughts can't link,

And I do not understand.

Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane, 2007.

Uh ... it's hard not to take this poem as a reflection on my own failures, but let's go to the source and learn more.

You're my daughter? 

    Um hm.

What is that like?

    Uh ... very interesting.

How so?

    Because you are very nuts?

Nuts?

    Yes. You're weird, wacky, and wonky, which is a good thing.

Does any of that craziness have anything to do with Jane Austen? Or am I crazy either way?

    You're crazy either way.

Have you read Jane Austen? 

    Jane Austen board books, when I was a baby.

Did you like them?

    When I was a baby.

Have you seen any of the film versions?

    You've made me watch them my whole life.

Tell me one you remember.

    Bride and Prejudice. That was hilarious

Do you remember any period adaptations?

    No.

Does that mean we should sit down and start watching them all again?  

    NOOOOOOOOO! They're very boring.

You know those words are like daggers in my heart, right?

    But they are. 

Do you think Jane Austen holds any interest for almost ten year olds?

    Maybe try again when I'm 13.

Why not?

    Because ten year olds are busy reading cool stuff, like Harry Potter and stuff.

What does your poem mean to you?

    It means I do not understand any of this. You just blab about it, and I do not understand any little bit of it.

Do you think that if you had read the books or watched the movies you would understand?

    Not very likely.

Do you think your mother has done a bad job of introducing you to Austen?

    Most likely.

Why?

    Because you like it. Everything is boring if you like it.

Maggie Smith in Becoming Jane, 2007

I like Harry Potter.

    Thanks a lot. You ruined it for me.

Are you a cantankerous child?

    Absolutely not.

Tell me one thing that you know about Jane Austen.

    She wrote in the early 19th century.

Good job. I guess I'm not a total failure. Can you tell me something interesting about the early 19th century?

    The clothes were interesting.

Why?

The clothes were very different than those from before or afterwards, which were big and look uncomfortable, but Empire dresses look comfortable. It makes me think of the clothing in the 1920s, because they were so different than the times before and after. I think that's cool.

Anything else you want to say to my readers?

    I prefer fantasy.

But you love to read, right?

    Yeah.

And that's the most important thing, right?

    Yes.

So I'm not a complete a screw up, right?

    No. Because you're my mommy. 

Aw. Anything else?

    Goodbye.

Bye, Eliza.

It's been an interesting experiment. Until next week, thanks for reading.


8 comments:

  1. Very interesting.
    Marilyn

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  2. I loved, loved, loved this! Your daughter sounds fantastic (and not just because she likes fantasy)! And don't take her poem as a poor reflection on you; indeed, you should be quite proud, for to express, in verse, what you don't know is so much more difficult, I think, than asserting what you do know!

    My daughter, also 10, thought Bride and Prejudice was very funny, as well! (She loved the film's version of Mr. Collins.) She did like the 1995 P&P adaptation, which we just watched a month ago over the course of about 10 days -- but mainly because of Lydia ("I want to go to Brighton!") and Mrs. Bennet ("My nerves! My poor nerves!") She would roll her eyes every time Darcy thought of Elizabeth, or Elizabeth thought of Darcy. She called these "floating head" moments because, well, their heads seemed to be floating in the other person's "vision" as they daydreamed about them. :-) Many thanks to you for sharing this interview, and many thanks to your daughter, as well, for allowing herself to be interviewed! (Being a wacky mom is, I think, a great achievement.)

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    1. Christina, it is a great ambition of mine to be a wacky mom.

      I am actually at this moment about 2/3rds through the 2007 Northanger Abbey with Eliza, and she is only very grudgingly watching it. We chose it because it is the shortest of all the Austen adaptations. P&P 1995 is probably not happening anytime soon. What can you do?

      Thank you for the lovely comment. I wish we could get our girls together. They could commiserate.

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  3. Linda lifegigglesMay 30, 2021 at 8:40 PM

    Lol. I don't have a daughter so I am getting ready to try and introduce my great nieces to Austin, and they happen to be almost 10. Can't wait to see their reactions.
    Now, I can say I got my son when he was around 13 to watch P&P 1995 version. Laughing still and he is 29 now. He needed a big novel read by Monday and only told me Friday night. I told him this was the only way I knew how he could get it completed in time.
    He made a 100. His teacher called because she was so impressed he read this book. We were laughing so had. She asked him what he disliked the most about the book. He said "The long pauses."

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    1. That is a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing it. What a cool kid he must be. My daughter has been pounded with Austen all her life. It's to be expected there is some pushback. I hope she will come around one day. It seems reasonable she will. Best of luck to you with your nieces.

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