Reversing the Numbness

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sweet Redemption

So a month or so ago, I had my first gig as a parent reader in my daughter's kindergarten class. I was stoked about it, too. I'd chosen the books that my girl loves the most, which I figured would be an indication that the other kids would love them too.

Wrong. I went in thinking I was going to bring the house down with my animated storytelling style and character voices, but I fell flat.

"This book is too long!" one kid said as i trudged on through Seuss' Horton Hatches an Egg. I noticed some of the kids looking around the room as I moved through The Old Woman Who Named Things. What the hell!? This is a great book! I just didn't understand, and I was bummed when I left. I was also nervous for my next gig, slated for 8:30 am on March 3.

Last night, when the Dalai Mama reminded me that my next reading session was today, I broke out in a cold sweat as I tried to contain my panic. Were they going to bring rotten fruit this time?

I had to show up big this time, so I went for shorter books that I was sure would engage even the antsiest of kiddies. I knew my opener was vital, so I pulled out all the stops and went with Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, much to my daughter's delight. This book starts out with a fella asking the readers to make sure the pigeon doesn't try to stay up late, then the pigeon goes through legions of excuses about why he should be allowed to stay up until, fatigued from his antics, he passes out. Was it a good choice for an opener?

One kid broke out in uncontrollable laughter that forced me to delay mid-book until he could semi-regain his composure. Every other kid in the circle was in stitches, and they cheered when I finished. And this was just the first of five books, folks!

I was on a roll, basking in the glory of their five-year-old approval. I moved into the more serious When You Grow Up, about a bear who has discussions with his mother about his future as an adult, all of which involve him living with his mother. Despite the more serious tone, it was also a hit. Then I read Franklin Is Bossy, which turned into a grand discussion on taking turns, treating your friends right, etc. The last book I had brought was My Dog Never Says Please, about a snooty little girl who decides she wants to be a dog so she won't have to watch her manners, clean her room, etc. This one also had the kids howling, and when I realized that I still had seven minutes left of stage time, my daughter chose a simple, silly Seuss book off the bookshelf for me to close with: There's a Wocket in my Pocket.

When I closed the fifth and final book of my set, I got the ovation I'd been missing ever since that first gig all those weeks ago. It was sweet success, folks. I nailed it.

For booking information, please contact my agent.


Clash said...

Authentic laughter pause…..that is priceless! Is there a possibility your tour will bring you thru Atlanta? I want to get in line early for tickets.

Nice choice in agents!

The Dalai Mama said...

I'm glad it went well! I told you you had a second chance to make a first impression. LOL

Erin O'Brien said...


Eric said...

anything worth doing, is worth doing big.

you're going to need lights and some pyro's...not to mention a kick @ss sound system. giant, dancing, panda bears are also a big hit with the kids.

we can charge $50 a ticket. we'll make millions i tell you! millions!

SleekPelt said...

clash: My tour depends on how hard my agent works -- but I definitely picked the right person for the job!

dm: You always believed in me, it's true. You would've been proud.

erin: It was a moment of triumph worth cheering for.

eric: I could probably get you a gig at Cheat Lake Elementary ... opening for me.

olives and more said...

I glad you got the approval you were looking for.

Mom! Toilets blogged! said...

Hate to steal your thunder, but watch Josh, rider 127 at the Vegas Endurocross.

Raoul Duke said...

atta boy, Sleek. I figured the kids would be down with you. I am surprised you weren't at first. I figure story hour at your house has to rule the kingdom.

my closer as of late is "Elmo So Big", which Sage adores. She gives him a kiss at the end of the story every time. priceless

Zee said...

Nice. Sounds like it might be difficult to top, though. Two words: Gorilla Suit.

josh williams said...

A friend of mine is a 5/6th grade school teacher.He teachers Earth Science, I for a number of years would visit his class once a year as a "Bat Expert" I knew a little about the little beasts but what the heck, he said it would be fun.
We met the night before at a local pub, I brought my girlfriend/ teetotaler who could walk me home if I became to learned. I had brought a few books and we decided that The Golden Guide to Bats was the best book to read and so I did, I had the most common questions answered. We celebrated with another beer, teetotaling girlfriend joined in being a nature lover and all she loved the idea, well the celebration closed the bar and I walked my sweet home.When we were in the kitchen she acted like she was going to be sick, so I grabbed a plastic grocery sack out for her to vomit in, she did with care and accuracy.After about the third sack it dawned on me that the bathroom might be a better solution.
Well the next thing I know is the alarm went off, I arrived at the school on time but feeling like warmed over guano, the class's began and I sat at the desk and answered questions, I could hardly speak yet I could answer the questions of the teacher, he gave me such an intro, Mountain Climber, X-treme Skier,Moto Cross Racer, World traveler, Famous Photographer, Bat Expert...At one point, in the smart class one of the kids asked me if we had rehearsed, fortunately my buddy interrupted saving the day.
My first session as a guest speaker was horrible, the next 8ish were better but not much. My friend is a great teacher, we do not pay these people enough, forget spending money on temples of sport, lets pay the people who are shaping our children.I am done now, with Bat Expert appearance's and my comment.
Other than, sleek I am glad you made your kid proud.

Hattica said...

That sounds like a good time. My only skills for making kids laugh, or otherwise feel entertained, is to hurt myself. A whack to my head with a blunt object gains full attention span and respect. Then, if I play like they shot me and throw myself on the ground and roll around in've got a little buddy for life.

Somehow I think your performance will do more for the groms. LOL!

Good read, man.

Devil Mood said...

*sigh of relief*
I'm glad it went well this time! Kids are the toughest audiences and I feel that they're going tougher as time goes by.
What usually works for me is a) making a fool of myself or b) saying something very ridiculous and non-sense, they usually end up in stitches.

Melissavina said...

Kids are possibly the hardest audience because they don't care if you feel good about yourself. Winning their laughter seems easy because all you have to do is make a fart noise. But holding their attention WITH laughter is a toughie. Good job!

M@ said...

Hya doing folks? Good, I hope. Well, I'll be brief. I know I'm the only standing between you and a 15-minute recess!


M@ said...

...And can we get a big round of applause for recess?

SleekPelt said...

olive: Me too!

mom: I saw that video -- classic! I love the dramatic pause they added to the feat. I saw one of my guys in that video, too, shooting from photographer's row.

rd: I've always had a strong rapport with the wee ones, and I suppose it's possible I slightlyexaggerated the degree to which I bombed the first time. Rewarded with a kiss? That is priceless, brother. I hope the sweet thing is well and I can't wait to see her (and you can C) again.

zee: The suit would be a huge hit with some, but it would terrify others!

josh: I can't tell you how proud I am to know a bona fide bat experts. What with my love of bats and all.

hattica: If I'd stuck to your methods the first time around, I probably would have been okay.

devil mood: Those are sure-fire methods that I've used many times myself.

melissavina: Thanks!

m@: "So this kindergartener walks into a bar ... a monkey bar!"

Zee said...

Thats OK, Nowadays, people pay big bucks to get good and scared.

Gorilla Suit.

getto said...

Last time I read for Isabella's class they were all completly captivated by the book I was reading. And then, this little dude starts picking his nose. Totally blew it for me.

The Dalai Mama said...

getto: What's wrong with nose-picking? I like it.

Inarticulate Fumblings said...

So, after reading this post, turns out I DO have a maternal instinct. Jeebus, makes me want kids.

If you need material for your next gig, try Bootsie Barker Bites. Instant hit with my students when I was teaching.

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

I wish I could've been there! Sounds like you'll have them listening to Dickens before long. Oh, and I loved your agent's comment about a second chance at a first impression, haha!

SleekPelt said...

zee: I trust you, pal. If it scares 'em, tough.

geto boy: Didn't you ever see Robin Hood, where Kevin Costner was shooting an arrow and the girl blew in his ear, causing him to lose concentration and miss the shot badly? You can't let the kids do that to you, man!

IF: Kids rule! (When they're not draining the life out of you.) And thanks for the tip, I'll look for that on our next trip to the library.

SleekPelt said...

teoh: I'll start with Great Expectations. The DM was very supportive as I struggled with confidence leading up to the gig.

Great post you put up, by the way. I usually have to think about your posts for a while before commenting, though!

The Dalai Mama said...

IF: I love "Bootsie Barker Bites"! My kids love it too. I think I read it to them over and over once when we were visiting Olives.

getto said...

I did not see that movie of which you speak, Sleek. I prefer movies that don't make my eyeballs vomit.