Last Sunday Sam informed us that he had entered himself in to the school talent contest. Slightly concerned that he was only letting us know now, less than a week before the event, and not having heard him practice or perform whatever it was he was performing, the husband and I gently enquired what it was that he was going to be doing. Sam told us that he was going to be singing one of the songs from the film The Lorax. Not wishing to go all Simon Cowell on our beautiful boy, we asked him was he sure. He told us that he was, so we asked him to sing it in front of us. It took a lot encouragement from us to get him to sing but eventually after lots of deep breaths and us agreeing not to look at him, he finally agreed to. The problem was every time he started to sing he got a fit of the giggles. Bless our boy he didn't know all the words either. Talking to Sam we explained that if he was going to sing in the contest he would have to learn it off by heart in the next week.
Unperturbed Sam spent the next two days with the song on repeat (I think I knew the words before he did) but the giggles got the better of him every time he tried to sing just one line. By Wednesday Sam got up the courage to sing it to my Mum down the phone, mainly without laughing, but he still didn't quite know all the words.
Steven and I sat Sam down on Wednesday night and asked was this really what he wanted to do. Whilst we do believe children need to experience successes as well as failures, we do sometimes think certain situations that cause unneccesary upset can be avoided. So I suggested that as Sam had been learning about writing poems at school and he had in fact written a few at home on his computer, perhaps this may be something he could do. I also told Sam about the school talent contest I entered in 1989.
My friend, Leah and I decided that our eight year old selves would make a fantastic singing and dancing duo. I would be the vocalist and she would be the dancer... what could possibly go wrong? We'd practiced in the school playground every lunch and break time and even performed in front of a few of our friends who weren't skipping or playing hopscotch. The afternoon of the talent contest rolled round and as we sat crossed legged in the school hall, I had the cassette tape insert of Madonna's Like A Prayer album which had all the words written in it, in my hand so that I could sing it silently in my head until it was our turn. As our names were called (I don't recall if we had entered under a group name in homage to our favourite band Bananarama) I thought I was going to be sick all down my friends back as she walked out on to the stage in front of me. As my friend began to dance with all the enthusiasm only an eight year old can muster, I started to sing. The first verse went well, a couple of wobbles, a little too quiet, but by the chorus I believed I was giving Madonna a run for her money . The second verse begun and.... disaster... I forgot all the words, verses got mixed up with choruses, choruses got mixed up with verses, I'd choked and nothing was going to pull this train wreck of a talent contest entry back. My friend, give her her due, carried on dancing like only an eight year old would, but by the end of it, I was practically in tears. I couldn't listen to Like A Prayer for at least a month after it happened, and at thirty two I still don't think I've quite ever got over it all being Madonna's fault.
After I told Sam this story, amongst his giggles and my husbands roll of the eyes and shake of his head and one of his 'only you' looks, Sam suddenly became serious.
"Mum," he said, "I think I would like to write a poem about Alfie instead."
So Wednesday night Sam and I sat up till nine pm and wrote a poem together for him to read at the talent show. And this is what we came up with...
Alfie's Life by Samuel Leigh Farag Class 3W
I would like to introduce you to my dog named Alfie
Me, my mum and daddy, we sometimes call him Ralfie
Alfie is a labrador who can jump and bounce real high
You should see him when he runs in circles, to catch his tail he tries
He can be a really greedy dog some days, he sure does love his food
But he's such a happy dog it seems, he's never in a mood
I love my Alfie dog so much, he really makes me laugh
But when he comes home from the beach, his coat sure needs a bath
Sometimes Alf and I play games together, we really are rather silly
But when he lets me cuddle him before bed, his fur is never chilly
When I throw his ball along the beach, he runs in to the sea
He likes to swim out really far, but he always comes back to me
Alf is nine years old this year, i think we should give him a cheer
I've known him since the day I was born, and he's always loved me dear
My crazy labrador named Alfie, is really just like my brother
At night when he gets cold on my floor, he has my Winnie the Pooh cover
Alfie is a clever dog, he really is rather smart
Whatever he does, wherever he goes, I love him with all my heart
The talent show was on Friday afternoon, and Sam read Alfie's Life. I was on the afternoon school run on Friday and I had a very smiley young man practically floor one of his friends as he pushed past them to run in to my arms.
"How did you get on Sam?"
"I'm through to the final Mum!"
So next Friday he has to perform it again but this time with something a little extra. We've decided that he is going to take in his labrador soft toy and do some actions along with it. We're hoping he'll have learned the words off by heart by then, but if not, he is allowed to have them on the floor in front of him.
Personally I think he'd walk it if he actually took the dog along with him, but apparently there is a no pet rule in school. I did offer to dress up as a dog for him but Sam said that would be just too embarrassing. I know, I know it's not the winning that matters, it's the taking part that counts...