I have always loved to read. I remember going to the library as a child with my mother, heading into the childrens section, and picking out books to bring home. The cool, musty silence of the old brick building, and the feel of the papery hardbacks in my little hands are memories forever ingrained in my mind. I remember checking out all the Babysitters Club books and later the Sweet Valley Twin series from the little library extension that opened closer to our home. I would check out as many as I could carry. I read anywhere and everywhere. I used to hide out in our camper to read my father’s Stephen King and Dean Koontz books undisturbed, and I read while the camper was forest bound on weekend camping trips. I read at the dinner table, and I read while out at restaurants – how nice was that for my parents! I READ books while we were out at restaurants, dang they were lucky. During my teenage years I laid out on our deck saturated in suntan oil and read novels for fun. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the morning finishing a novel I just couldn’t put down while in high school. In fact, I still do that. GC often finds me propped up in bed reading way past the hour I said I was going to go to bed. I love to read. I always hoped to pass on the love of a good book to our child.
The one thing every new Mom hears about, besides the importance of breast milk, is the importance of reading to young children. Given my love of the written word, I knew my kid would never lack in bedtime, or anytime stories. Books were one of the first things I bought when I found out I was pregnant. I started reading to the Roc at an early age – in utero. I used to read Good Night Moon and House Mouse Friends to my growing belly. I even got GC to read to my belly sometimes, though in truth that was a little weird for me. I preferred to sit in the glider I just HAD to have and read board books out loud, by myself.
A few weeks after the Roc was born I traded breastfeeding for the breast pump and felt so guilty. No matter how hard I tried, breastfeeding this child just wasn’t working out for us. The guilt I felt was immense. I hated watching the Roc cry while I hooked myself up to that pump, but it is literally impossible to sooth a squawking infant and operate a double breast pump at the same time. Believe me, I tried. So I started strapping him into the bouncy seat, balancing the pump bottles on my knees, hunching over to keep them in place, and reading to him for the 20 minutes it took to empty myself. It was the start of his love affair with books. He grew to LOVE being read to.
He still enjoys it and we read every night before bed. Most nights he tries to stretch our three bedtime stories to five or six, and most of the time I let him. What’s the harm? I get to spend a little more time with him doing something we both enjoy, and more reading can never hurt!
Lately the Roc has become enamored with two books I recently purchased through the monthly scholastic book club order at his school, Let’s Be Friends and We Are Alike, We Are Different. First he wanted to read them over and over, they were the only books he chose night after night, and now they are constantly with him. He has to know where they are and if he moves locations in the house, they come too. He will even stop what he is doing, ask where they are, and then run off to find them.
It used to be that he was never without his little stuffed elephants named “baby” and “EE” and now he is never without these two books.
I find them on the counter when I am making his breakfast (and no, that is not wine on the counter in the morning, that is light olive oil in a wine bottle. I speak the truth. I’d rather have a Mikes and I can barely eat in the morning, let alone drink!)
They are on the table during meals,
and even while he plays with and eats his nightly green beans. He was making the letters H and R, and then a box before I threatened him with the loss of a cookie convinced him to eat them.
They are with him while we play games,
play in his room,
and even while we watch a show together on the couch.
They are the first thing he finds after school, along with a lollipop,
and the last thing he touches before falling asleep.
It’s adorable isn’t it?
Also, how completely appropriate that my son, who has to work so hard to interact with his peers, and who happens to be a spunky, fun little boy on the spectrum should become so attached to these two titles. He does not know how to read yet, but I watch him flipping through the books and pointing to different letters and words. He is particularly interested in a certain few pages that are about laughing with friends in the book Let’s Be Friends. Both books use photographs of real, smiling children throughout, and I think that has something to do with their appeal. I find it utterly fascinating that he has become so bound to these two books. I wonder if he understands the significance of the the titles in relation to himself and his own daily struggles with peer interactions and fitting in.
The books are getting pretty worn, and now I have to remind the Roc to keep them elevated and away from Guinness, but I’m excited for all that is implied in his connection with these two books.
It seems that not only have I created an outdoor kid, I may also have a bookworm on my hands!