A Fourth Grade Rap

Spring brings the school talent show, when kids get to show off their skills not usually celebrated in the classroom. It is always surprising and delightful. This year, our fourth grader was on a mission. First, he came home upset that he didn’t have someone with whom to perform. “Everyone is already doing something with someone!”

I emailed the teachers asking if anyone else was still available. Apparently, no one had yet signed up. Everyone was fair game.

The next day, he came home smiling, “I know what I’m doing for the talent show! A comedy show about how much school sucks.” Still smiling, but not a joke.

Train wreck coming!

So, with a cup of coffee in hand, I dashed off A Fourth Grade Rap just in case I could sway him.

Hmmmm. “Mom… it’s just… I guess some of it’s good.”

So after editing my work and adding a verse, he gave the okay to send it to a few of his friends’ moms in a recruitment effort. “Anyone up for doing a talent show rap?”

Two pair of cool shades, a backwards baseball cap, and two rehearsals later, we had ourselves a hit.

Fourth grade is cool. The kids are really funny.                                                                           But you gotta learn your skills if you want to make money.

Remember when Mr. B fell off the boat?                                                                                    The water was cold. He wished he had his coat.

Tuesdays rock if you go to Homework Club.                                                                               Ms. Grant gives out gum, and gets the big DUB.

We practice our fractions on IXL.                                                                                                   We copy eight words until we can spell.

Fourth grade is cool. The kids are really funny.                                                                           But you gotta learn your skills if you want to make money.

We know our state capitals, north to south.                                                                              And we’ve learned it’s bad to have a big mouth.

Did you find your fiftieth license plate?                                                                                Getting Puerto Rico was really great!

What did you make for our African feast?                                                                                Your Invention Convention idea was beast!

Fourth grade is cool. The kids are really funny.                                                                            But you gotta learn your skills if you want to make money.

We play Danish Rounders and Seven Up.                                                                                Guess what, mom, today my pin got moved up!

We read Ranger’s Apprentice, Holes, and The Cay,                                                                 Filled out our Reading Logs every day.

We have the best teachers in the U.S.                                                                                       We’re sorry recess was sometimes a mess.

The kids are really funny. Fourth grade is so cool.                                                                       We have the greatest grade in the whole school.

I mean, let’s get real. Which grade is better?                                                                              Just consider this our thank you letter.

Thank you soooo much Ms. Grant and Mister B.                                                                    Fourth grade has been an awesome year for me.

We hope fifth grade will be this super cool.                                                                            We’re almost ready to rule Lower School!

Boys’ Night

Last night, the fourth grade boys celebrated next week’s start of school with an all-boys’ outdoor movie night. The night was put on as part of an effort to establish some traditions for them that bring them together as a group.

Kickball. Catching up. The third Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pizza. Cupcakes. Brownies. Candy. Popcorn.

With the sun refusing to set, and after some very loud happy play, they sat around the picnic tables talking. One excited crew poured juice on each other’s heads. One head injury ended up in the ER. They are boys, after all.

But as darkness fell, and cool air promising a 10:00 rainstorm blew across the yard, they snuggled up together under their blankets. Two boys huddled in low beach chairs here. Another two in chairs there. Seven or eight in a big pile in the grass like puppies.

Thunder rumbled as the movie ended. The first raindrops fell just as they untangled from the cozy pack and went home.

Their first night out past bedtime.

The Second Child Picks a State

In fourth grade, our school requires that each student become the class expert on a particular state of their choosing.

Last year, my oldest son chose South Dakota because we had just returned from Mount Rushmore, a place he “always wanted to go”. He was barely able to contain his joy.

This year, our second fourth grader in two years watched as classmates chose Georgia (he’s a huge Falcons fan) and Massachusetts (he likes the Red Sox and the batting cages on Cape Cod).

“All my states were gone by the time it was my turn to choose!”

I know my son. If he isn’t going to get what he wants, he is going to make it easy. He picked South Dakota.

His teacher does not how closely he watches his big brother do homework or how relentlessly he infuses his opinions into his brother’s project work. So she said that as long as he does not copy his brother’s report, he can keep South Dakota.

“I’m not going to copy his report,” he told us matter-of-factly at dinner. “I’m just going to erase his name and put mine. No copying necessary.”

The challenge for Mom is getting him – with all the same photos from our trip and my limited tourist’s knowledge – to dig deeper into the piece of earth that is South Dakota and to make it his state.

Fortunately, our youngest will not make the same choice. On our return drive from South Dakota, he stared out his window. Miles of dry prairie seemed to keep us from home. Impatient and pissed off, he asked, “Are we still in America?”

To My Fourth Grader

In the last days of fourth grade, I wonder what you will remember from this year. I still have memories of being ten and Mrs. Parker’s class in the new building. But I feel like we had more time to play and were under much less pressure to excel at everything than you and your classmates are. So I hope that when you look back, you realize how much you grew, how much joy you gave those around you, how proud we were of you. And that it was fun.

I remember studying Egypt and wanting to be an archeologist like the Leakeys. Will you remember that you had plans to study physics and chemistry so you could build the first time machine?

I remember sitting at the round table near the sink with Mary, Sarah and Amy. They would all get sent out in the hall for talking, but I was too quiet for Mrs. Parker to hear. So I was left alone in class – the first injustice I remember suffering. Will you still be friends with the kids at your table?

I remember that Mrs. Parker was too old to manage a camping trip, an annual tradition that started in third grade at my school. So the whole class went to Brian’s house in Annapolis. I think that was the year someone dumped cool-aid in the water, and I got stung by jellyfish up and down my legs. Will you remember chasing the Sting Ray while snorkeling for the first time?

That was the year I read Little Women and got stuck for two months on the chapter about Meg. And the Christmas when Mrs. Parker told me I had to stop reading biographies until Spring Break, because I had read Florence Nightingale and Helen Keller 14 times each. Will you remember reading the Percy Jackson books one right after the other?

I took piano lessons in a red brick house across from school. My piano teacher had beautiful white hair and multiple organs, pianos, and even a harp in the room where she taught. Each week, I arrived wishing I had practiced more. Every once in a while that room appears out of nowhere in my thoughts. Will you look back on playing “Square Dance” at your spring recital? Or Mrs. Valet letting you play the xylophone at the end of each lesson, because that’s what you really want to play?

I remember that the house we moved into the summer before had a dogwood tree out front with pink flowers on one side and white on the other. I still believe it was the only one in the world. Will you remember telling me that we should never sell our house because you want to live in it when you have kids?

I loved homework, although you have much, much more than we did. I remember writing a ten-page book report that included colorful illustrations just because I was so excited to bring an assignment home. It made me feel important and wise. Will you remember working on your South Dakota report? Or rehearsing your Wright Brothers speech? Or making that crazy relief map of the U.S.? Or proudly instructing your brothers that they’d better shape up for Mrs. Grant, as if you have earned a badge of honor for surviving the toughest teacher in Lower School – and you need to protect her from your errant siblings.

I remember a skeleton named Charlie in a white wooden closet in Mrs. Bishop’s Science Room. Will you remember how obsessed you were with the digestive system? That when you finally believed you could not get polio, you started worrying about the dog catching it. Or how much fun you are having building your rocket with Mr. Gifford, who always keeps you laughing?

I believed, and still believe, I have the best parents, sisters and best friend in the world. Will you remember what it feels like to snuggle with your mom? How excited you are each night when Dad walks in the door? How amazing your brothers are?

To my fourth grader, when you are all grown up, my hope is that you look back on fourth grade – even though you had to work hard, be more independent, run a timed mile, join the swim team – and remember it as fondly as I do.