Monday, January 12, 2009

Entering the Internet is like...

looking at your reflection in a mirror reflecting a mirror. The reflections go on and on and on, until you get lost in the reflection.

Tonight I had the ?pleasure? of helping my son with his language arts homework. The dreaded simile/metaphor assignment. I recall these from my own childhood with the same dread and loathing as getting a cavity filled. The beautiful thing for this generation of parents is that we don't have to remember all of this esoterica. We can google it. So, off to to wikihow and WikiAnswers to find examples of similes and metaphors.

Metaphors and similes abound on the internet like dandelions on a roadside field. But all the examples in the world don't help when you are looking for the "right answer". How do you explain that there is no "right" answer to the simile/metaphor when writing a simile or metaphor? My son was completely stressing about this, and I was recalling my own child hood again.

Maybe it's all the wine. Maybe it's the age. Maybe it's all the crazy music I listened to as a college student that rewired my brain. Certainly it rewired my hearing - what did you say? In any event it has helped me to reconnect different pathways in my memory recently. As I watched my son struggling and stressing, I thought of the Infinity Mirror reflecting itself into eternity. Suddenly the mirror cracked - I realized it was the "right answer" problem.

"Are you lookng for the "right answer?" I asked with a little puzzled brow. Frustrated, he nodded to me. "Unlike Math facts, Science facts and even Social Studies facts, Language Arts doesn't always have a "right answer" you can study for a test. Language arts is different and more creative than the other subjects. With Similes and Metaphors there is a "right pattern" and as long as your creativity fits that pattern you get to have all the fun."

"But Mom, how do you know how Pablo smiles in the sentence "Pablo smiles when he sees Carlos and the girls?" A knowing smile warms my face as I reply, "Your simile will answer the how. You, the writer, get to decide, is it a happy smile or a Cruella De Ville smile?"

For a moment I wondered, is this mirror going to continue to repeat itself? Can I come up with another way of explaining this that will "click"? But my son looked out from the mirror and went, 'Ah-HA! I get it." I smiled and realized that maybe, just maybe, with age does come wisdom. Or is that with wine?

I tried to find the "right' image to accompany this blog but it's as elusive as the beginning or end of that infinity mirror. In my searches I have found lots of neat art from M.C. Escher and Manet.

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