Phew! I’m here at the library if you can believe it. Alone. I don’t know what to do with myself. Ah, but I do!
We had a breakthrough this weekend, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. As you know, I’m a blogger with great ideas, but the execution is a bit challenging. But this 101 children’s classics idea had to be a sure winner. After all, I love to read, and it’s such a noble goal to read 101 classics to my kids, right? But then I posted sporadic entries moaning about how crazy life was and that government institutions were requiring birth certificates and immunization records, and everyone must think I am very good at filling out forms because they sure keep handing them to me. It was hard to get to that reading.
Ah! But then there was light. We went to the Shakespeare Festival in our big red van, and as much as they tried, the boys just couldn’t wander off too far from me. Grabbing the opportunity, I told them all about Henry IV Part One. Either I was a good story teller, or else I had seized all of their iPods (it’s hard to tell), but I actually held their attention!
Henry IV is such a guy’s play.
You’ve got Hotspur who acts like he’s all that and wins all of his battles, but he has a really hard time keeping control of that temper! He’s also dealing with anxiety and even trying to stave off depression. He’s basically an insecure jock.
Then you’ve got Prince Hal who is your classic underachiever. He’d rather party than face his royal responsibilities. Deep down he has no respect for his loser friends, and he despises himself for not manning up. But when he does finally accept his noble birthright, he is a shining star.
Hotspur stages a rebellion against the prince and everyone must choose sides fast! Then you add Gandalf, a crazy king, some good Welsh/Elvin songs, a funny fat guy, thieves, lots of sword play, and you’ve got something boys like. You also know where Tolkien got all of his ideas.
Here’s an example of how to summarize a scene of Shakespeare so your kids will get it.
“So Hotspur is now freaking out because his dad and Gandalf are not showing up to the battle. The only guy that is showing up is the spy. Hotspur’s all, ‘So is Prince Hal so drunk he’s falling off of his horse?’ The spy answers ‘The prince looks GRRRR-e-a-t! Like a knight in shining armour! A Greek God!’ So yeah, Hotspur is flipping out now, but he’s still got to hold it together for the rest of the team.”
My boys get these characters, and they want to know how Hal and Hotspur deal with all of their emotional junk. The two H’s have got to keep up a good front while still trying to suppress their fear, failure, jealousy, and self-doubt. Shakespeare’s really good at showing that internal struggle which is one of the reasons he’s a certified genius. Sure beats Ironman.
Anyway, the story captured my boys. They want to be cool, win their games, pull off a good practical joke, and find some awesome friends. Henry IV teaches them how to do all of that.
We got to the play in plenty of time to fish and chips, smoked turkey legs, and shortbread.
Did the boys actually like the play that night? Some more than others. The captain loved it too and then shared some brilliant insights that were worthy of a PhD dissertation.
Am I going to count this as one of their 101 Classics? Yes! After all, they heard the whole play did they not?