But there's only one of me, and I'm only good for 15 or so minutes of uninterrupted chatter before I give out and go to my happy place. The little ones, God bless them, don't mind when my interest goes sour, so long as I keep up the "uh-huh ... really? ... OK ..." Nonetheless, I don't like leaving them to talk to empty space. So many great ideas get lost that way, you know? Plus, my left eye starts twitching when they start in on the, "Momma? Momma? Are you listening to me? Momma? Momma? Momma? Momma?"
So! Here's what we do: Each kid gets his own notebook--the cheap, wide-ruled, three subject variety. When I can no longer hear the words for all the noise, I wait for the storyteller to take a breath and then I say, "You need to go write this down in your notebook."
If only they'd had notebooks back then ...
And then he (or she, or they) does (do)! The big girl uses up all her words, the mancub goes crazy with pictures, the little girl gets jiggy with circles, and the baby increases her fiber intake. Everyone's a winner! Even I, myself: sometimes it takes a given kid 20 minutes to perfect the marvelous glare on Razor Man's heroic visage. 20 minutes, friends. Think of the quiet.
After supper, each child receives the opportunity to show off his or her work, and in this more ordered setting each child thus receives more focused and meaningful attention for his or her work. You know, when the stars align with Perfect World on the southern horizon, or something.
And now you know.