My Kids Are Having Fun, Let Me Read-Thanks

Reading by the water isn’t always peaceful and relaxing. I wish it was, but usually someone is screaming ( insert my children and usually they are screaming in the name of fun, usually). Often I can block it out, but it never truly amounts to the scene I have playing in my mind of what a day reading by the water should be.

About six or seven years ago there was a group of girls that I hung out with. We all had kids in the same age range and we tried to plan things during the day. In the summer months these things usually involved some kind of water like a pool or lake. Two of us in this group were avid readers as well as good friends. Along with all of the kid crap we packed, there never failed to be a few books tucked in our bags. Her and I always had books on the brain.

The group of us would slather on sunscreen, set out towels, get out arm-floaties, sand toys (if at the lake), and then hopefully get a few minutes to pseudo-relax ourselves-ha. As any parent of a small child knows, true relaxation just doesn’t happen until that kid ages out of certain ranges. Someone is hungry, someone is a wobbly walker, someone needs to poop or already has pooped in a gross swimmie-diaper (massive yuckles), and someone is always mad at something. Your adult conversations start and stop numerous times, you repeat everything, wait, what? My point, exactly.

By mid day when sun had somewhat taken its toll and the kiddos had been worn down a little, Reader Friend and I would take that as our cue to sneak in some reading time. The chatter wasn’t so loud, bellies were full, and everything was always a little more mellow by that point. This was more or less the gist of those days.

Skip to present day. That group for the most part has gone separate ways. Due to moves, jobs, different kid friends, etc. I’m still talk to a few of them occasionally and Reader Friend and I will always be friends. Recently another friend told me something that I never knew. She said, “Remember those summer water days with the kids?” “Of course,” I said. Well apparently one of the other moms during those times was always complaining about Reader Friend and I because we always brought books with us.

Huh? Who knew? I didn’t find her annoying because she never had a book with her, that tidbit should’ve been my first clue that we wouldn’t be close friends. I never judged anyone as we were all sitting there, I was too busy trying to read in between all the kid-happenings/crisis’. Surprise twist ending, Complainer Mom was one who I wasn’t sad to see move away (for other reasons) and that was obviously way before I knew of her strong dislike of my reading.

Good riddance.

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

– Lemony Snicket

PS. I’ve used this quote before, but it suited today’s post too perfectly.

This post is dedicated to Complainer Mom.

It’s in Your DNA, Yeah Maybe Not

I’m debunking a popular quote as myth rather than truth, at least in my family.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

– Emilie Buchwald

I call bull shit.

I have been reading to my boys, ages ten and twelve since birth and I have been a reader since forever. There are books everywhere in our home. There are probably too many books, but that’s beside the point. If I had placed a wager on giving birth to a bookworm(s), well I would have lost, but I wouldn’t have even questioned losing while making the bet.

Let’s go back a bit. My mom has always been a voracious reader. She read to my brother, sister, and I and was constantly taking us to the library and book shops. As much as kids think their parents are only thinking about them a hundred percent of the time, my mom was doing this for herself just as much as she was trying to instill the value and delight of reading in to us- and I love that. Some of my favorite memories of her include watching her read on her bed using her tiny reading light. When we went to the library her section and ours were on the second floor. After we traipsed up the steps we went left and she went straight. After awhile she’d come grab us, balancing her stack of books, we’d grab ours and head to check out. Those were some of the best days.

My boys just don’t enjoy reading. I don’t shove it down their throats, but that’s only because it still wouldn’t make them like it. When they get older they might develop a liking, but I’m not holding my breath. I fully understand that they have different interests. I just thought that some, or at least a smidgen of my outrageous love for reading would’ve been inherited. As in, if they would have come out of the womb holding a chapter book I would’ve smugly looked at the doctor and nodded, silently acknowledging my strong literary genes, No such luck. Recently I was going through some of the well-loved and worn children’s books that were read to them countless times. One that had been repeatedly taped up made me smile. I asked my oldest, while smiling like a cheesy Hallmark commercial, “You remember this one?” He kind of grimaced and said, “Maybe?” Maybe?!!!!! I read this so many times I still have most of it memorized! All I get is a maybe- are you kidding me?! I quickly flipped to a center page that I always made a big deal out while reading quite animatedly to him. “What about this page, don’t you remember baby llama being so upset?!” Again, not much of a response and maybe even a hint of annoyance. So I cut my nostalgic trip down memory lane short and put the basket of books away.

Maybe it skips a generation, maybe I’ll have a grandchild one day and he or she will love books. But you know what- I’m not betting the house on it.

“What kind of life can you have in a house without books?”

– Sherman Alexie

Magic

It’s not about having the time to read, it’s about finding the spare minutes that reading will fit into. As I write this I am waiting for my younger son’s basketball game to begin. During last night’s tournament I was able to finish a book on my Kindle and make a bit of headway into another.

Occasionally I’ll see someone I know and we will talk, but more often I can usually just sink inside whatever story I’ve been waiting to return to. Also, reading allows you to have an invisible sign up stating ‘Do Not Disturb,’ for those people you’d rather not speak to. Although, some people don’t always get the message. In those instances I will make my answers politely short.

I don’t read because I am bored. I read because it’s exciting and engaging. That’s why it truly doesn’t matter where I am. A comfy chair and blanket is always preferred, but I have read many books while sitting on hard bleachers.

Something I think is cool is when you spot a fellow reader. Another like-minded soul who is taking advantage of the same few stolen moments. Finding another reader in a room full of other people waiting for something is usually rare. Being rare is often what makes something more beautiful or sought after, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with reading. Although I think reading is an amazing and beautiful thing, it seems to fall more aptly under the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And that’s ok. Not everyone is meant to truly see and understand the same type of beauty. But it’s when we do, that it begins to hold a bit of magic.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King