The problem with reading to your children is twofold. One, it encourages verbal development. I see some folly in encouraging any more language development in my kids, at least until they start talking to one another instead of to me.
Two, they come to like books. A lot.
They are not supposed to be out of bed before 7:00, and Zachary has a digital clock by his bed to ensure compliance. If they need to pee, they are to leave silently so as not to wake one another, but neither child actually gets up to pee.
Lately, we have been bending the rule. It seems to be now that, if we are approaching 7:00 and you get out of bed without disturbing the other child, you get to climb into the big bed. On the weekends, there is still a parent or two in the bed to snuggle with. On weekdays, I have been known to climb back into bed to share an early morning cuddle.
Unfortunately, Zachary is a smart little bugger, and this policy seems to be encouraging him to get up earlier just so he can get some quiet cuddle time. We’re going to need to revert to the earlier standard, if only because pretty soon there is going to be a baby demanding that 6:30-7:00 slot.
But not quite yet. And so it was that on one recent morning, the little man and I sat together quietly on the living room couch, a rare moment when he allowed me to embrace him. After a few minutes, he whispered to me, “Mommy. I have an idea. We could do something better than a cuddle.”
I knew what was coming. “What’s that Zach?”
“It’s something next to the couch.”
“You want a book, babe.” I couldn’t help but smile, even though it also made me a little sad to know that already, at barely four, he classifies that as superior to hugging me. “Go ahead and pick one.”
Usually, we join the library immediately upon moving somewhere. But, this move has been so protracted and so overwhelming that we hadn’t gotten around to it. Maybe the lousy libraries in our London neighborhood had spoiled our interest. Or maybe we were just overwhelmed.
Our nanny, however, is subversive. First, she started talking about the library with our kids. She planted the seed, encouraging Zachary to subtly request a library card. Then, she started bringing over library books she had checked out. Finally, she quietly left two applications for library cards on the kitchen counter. No comment – just the applications.
I got the damned cards. The library is walking distance, and she takes them there all the time, returning one set of books and checking out another.
She’s encouraging the habit, you know.
He sat on my lap while our nanny gave Zachary snack, on the same couch where I had read to his brother in the morning. “Want book,” he declared.
“Go pick one.” He thumped down to the floor, ran over, grabbed The Lady With the Alligator Purse. I sang it to him.
“Want ‘nother book, Mommy.” This time it was Sandra Boynton. We finished it.
“’Nother one.” I despise those books with the full dinosaur names that I cannot pronounce.
“ Want ’nother one, please.” A book of British nursery rhymes, which always shock me in their excessive violence, what with carving knives and mice tails and whatnot.
“Want ‘nother book.”
“ Want ‘nother one, Mommy.”
At least this child lets me hold him while we read.