The silence that descended on the house is deafening. It truly is the most terrifying sound for young mothers because you just know the children are up to something or, worse yet, in trouble. As this is not the first time I have lost my children in my house (yeah, I was surprised I could lose them in the house, too), I have a system. I run around the downstairs, checking the bathrooms, the locks on the doors, and the corners as I call the boys. I race then upstairs to the master suite to make sure they are not in my make-up and jewelry, not in the bathroom, or suffocating in one of the dry cleaner bags my husband refuses to throw out. I run down the hallway to check the other bathroom and the guestroom, and I find them in the corner of the nursery, the one you can’t see from a quick glance as you run by, quietly flipping through the books. They look up to give me the look that I can only imagine Jesus gave his parents when they found Him in the Temple. “Where’d you think I’d be?” Um, right here, of course, not drowning in a toilet, not running down the street naked, not coloring the walls with my various shades of eyeliner, not ordering new toys online with my credit card. You both would be sitting nicely, not trying to wrestle, reading the nursery books.
It’s a shock to me to have both boys so interested in books, and I live with the constant worry, one of many, that one day they will decide it was all a phase. My brothers and I despised reading as young children, and only I developed a strong desire to read in my pre-teens. But I think life would be much easier for the child, the parents, and the teachers, if the child enjoys reading. I have done everything I could to foster this love. When I was four months pregnant with Evan, I would sit and read picture books out loud, believing that he was swimming around learning about fairy tales and warrior women before he even took his first breath. Before every naptime and bedtime, we read a book, sometimes two. Then there are the wonderful moments when they bring me a book to read instead of watching TV.
We have books every where in the house. Not only do I have an ever growing library in the office (and no, I don’t plan on downsizing that any time soon), both boys have a book case, which are ever expanding as well. Of course, I do not recommend letting your child just pick a book at the bookstore because Evan always picks the most expensive and then doesn’t want to read it when he gets home. (Why are there $20 picture books? Really?) Then downstairs in the family room is a large basket filled with the more stimulating educational books, which would just make story time twice as long if I kept them upstairs. (Let me touch it. Let me see it. Where’s the purple flower? Is it there? No. Is it here? Is it in this general direction? Evan, you know that’s not a flower; it’s a sheep. Now stop being silly; you were suppose to be a sleep an hour ago.) But these are the ones that Sean pulls out and hands me, saying “peeeaaase.” If they are the feel and touch and Mommy is trying just to entertain him while she is talking on the phone or perhaps vainly trying to watch the news or even Oprah, he pushes the book harder in my hand to let me know that he knows there is more to the book than touching, there’s an actual story with words Mommy is suppose to be saying.
In hopes to cure Evan’s fear of my appetizing nature to whales, I checked out a couple of whale books. And bless my soul, the boy took to them, asking to be read the books several times a day. Not only am I please that he wants to read so much, I am excited that he has chosen a subject that I can be interested and excited about too. Not to mention, I can share my own knowledge on the subject. I have visions of Sea World and whale watching museums and trips.
Last night after assuring Evan for the third time that he did not have spider web sheets but dinosaur sheets, I went downstairs, only to hear the pitter-patter of little feet running into the hall as soon as I took my first step off the stairs. Great. I wait to listen for the tiny “Mommy,” which will be followed by “can I have some water please” or “my bed’s too hot.” Instead I heard, “WOW! Look at this!” I went upstairs to find Evan lying on his stomach in the hall, using the light to look at the whale book.
“Look, Mommy! That’s a blue whale! That’s baleen! That’s so cool! Do you know how whales eat? They open their mouths like this! And swallow fish! Isn’t that cool?”
Instead of showing my excitement, I place my Supernanny face on and told Evan it was time for bed and to put the book away for tomorrow.
This morning I was woken by Sean making a different “aaahh” noise. As I entered the room, he saw me and pointed to the floor of the nursery, repeating over and over “Uh-oh, peeeaaaase!” So I picked him up, and he squirmed out of my arms to the floor, where he raced over to the books. Picking one up, he said “peeeeaaase!” and handed it to me. It was a Halloween book were one could raise the mask and spy a different baby Looney Tunes character. I sat down; Sean sat down next to me, scooting closer than the five inches his seating action caused him. When I finish reading the book, Sean forced it back into my hand, saying “peeeaaase!” When I finished reading it again, he handed back the book, saying “peeeaaase!” When I finished it yet again, he handed back the book and said “peeeaaase!” After the sixth time, when I couldn’t hear my own voice over the sound of my stomach, I kissed Sean on the head and ran before I could succumb to the magic word of “peeeaaase.”
When I was in high school, my mom forbade me to read anything outside the assigned reading material, as my A’s were starting to drop to (hold on your hats, folks) to B-‘s. Of course, it didn’t help that I was in trouble for reading in class instead of paying attention to the teacher. But now I wonder as I check on Evan’s nap, who is reading yet another whale book, that maybe I created a monster. Well, I guess it’s better than video games.