Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This is why I am not one of those people who looks at dedicated unschoolers with total disdain:

The scene: breakfast at the Blandings house. Oliver is alternately eating and throwing his wheat-free, gluten-free banana muffin. Manolin is chowing on a delicious assortment of dried cereals. Jo is cleaning her rabbit cages and running the risk of missing breakfast entirely if she doesn't hit the fast forward button. Mary Grace, Atticus and Logan are liberating oatmeal chocolate muffins from the pan. Due to the state of disintegration her favorite oven mitt is currently enjoying, Mary Grace burns the sensitive web of skin between her thumb and forefinger and elicits one of her random, curious pseudo-oaths.

MG: Mome Rath!

Neither Atticus nor Logan flinch at the words, but sympathize with the burn. Whilst MG is holding her tender skin under the faucet, it occurs to her that her sons are so used to their mother spewing the contents of her decidedly eclectic brain onto them that they probably think everyone's mother mutters Lewis Carroll in moments of despair.

MG: Do you guys know what a mome rath is?

Atticus: It's something that hurts.

Logan: I think it's an animal that bites you.

Clearly, it's time to resurrect "Jabberwocky," which Mary Grace realizes her children have forgotten entirely, despite the rather in-depth study they did on portmanteau poetry several years back. Over muffins, the three older children (Jo has by now made her appearance) are held in rapt attention as their mother recites "Jabberwocky."

Atticus: You didn't write that. I know you didn't. That's from Through the Looking Glass.

Logan: Mommy! I thought you made up the mome rath!

Jo, whose eyes are tempted to roll in disbelief: Really?

MG: I didn't write it. I just memorized it. Do you want to memorize it?

All three kids nod, and they set about memorizing. From there, the impromptu poetry lesson moves rapidly to a discussion on portmanteau, a poetry slam, and far too many giggles. Logan is moved to write his own poem. Atticus decides to work on the language he's been composing: Mickibacki. It's still in its infancy, and needs some assistance. Jo wants more portmanteau. MG leads her to another classic Carroll piece, The Hunting of the Snark.
And that, my dears, is why unschooling has its own brand of brilliance. And why I encourage ALL parents (homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers) to follow rabbit trails. Or, in this case, mome rath trails.


Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...


Sandi said...

Love it! Rabbit Trails are the best.

K. said...

I'm totally embarrassed to admit it, but I don't get that poem, nor what words mome rath are made from (especially the 'mome' part.

My googling isn't getting me very much explanation except that it's gibberish made from multiple words.