Sometimes when she can’t sleep, she asks me to come in her room to read for a bit. This is after story time, after chatting about the day (or asking questions about evolution like she did tonight when I set her up for drawing), it’s when she should be asleep or on her way. I bring my kindle or the library book I’m reading and sit on her bed to “read in my head” as she likes to call it while she draws. She just doesn’t want to be by herself. I totally get it.
Tonight, as I started Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings, I realized she would like the poems. They are short and beautiful and perfect to hear while drawing pictures of rainbows and hearts, like she was working on tonight.
So I read to her. I read a poem about writing and she interrupted to remind me that I am a writer like the author. I read a poem about a bird and we learned what a privet is. I read a poem about breaking the rules. She didn’t agree with that one at all. Roozle loves rules.
It didn’t help her fall asleep, but we don’t really care. Poetry is always worth it.
“Do you like reading or writing better?”
“Drawing, but I know that wasn’t one of the choices.”
“Why do you like drawing so much?”
“Because I make pretty pictures.”
“What makes the pictures pretty?”
“Color. Color color color is what I do. Color is what I love.”
“What’s your favorite color?”
“My favorite color is every color in my marker box.”
“How are you learning how to read?”
“My friend helps me. She helps me at school and at the end of the day she reads us stories.
Is reading hard?”
“One time my friend said do you know there’s something on your pants and I was actually wearing tights.”
I told her she could watch endless Dora and Diego if she read a book. She decided to write a book instead. And have a dance party. And trash the house. Good choice, Roozle.
Then tonight, she fell asleep reading. And my heart exploded. Learning to read feels a lot like magic. Even if it’s a bit of a struggle.
She crawled into my lap and took my book out of my hands. She got comfortable and started looking through it, asking me questions.
What’s this about? Why?
She can’t read yet, but she sees us reading a lot these days. We read with her too, of course.
When I saw Rilke in her little hands, I imagined, just for a second that one day she will be reading Rilke and not just to make me lose my page. Perhaps one day she will love these words as much as I do. Or she won’t and will tell me all about it. I’ll take that too.
I spend a lot of time in the moment these days. If I look ahead, I get overwhelmed, so I try not to. But sometimes, I get a little glimpse into who this kid might become when the train set is away for good and when the marker lines on the table fade.
Childhood goes fast, yes. But I’m not the parent that cries when I give away outgrown clothes. Maybe I’m not sentimental enough. Probably.
For now, I’ll take the visit on the couch. Even if it means I just lost my place.
Sometimes I read Langston Hughes in the parking lot while walking to my car. Or at Roozle’s swim class. Or in line for a latte. Because for a long time I didn’t think I had time to read. Then I realized I was just doing it wrong. All I needed was a book in my pocket.
Now, when I have a few moments, I reach for a book, not my phone. I have a small stack of paperback favorites next to my bed. Salinger, Tolstoy, Rilke. So good. They all fit in my pocket and rotate as needed.
Good job, pocket. Let’s read all the books!