Recently, I found our old copy of Sandra Boynton’s Snuggle Puppy. Though Noah was not keen on sitting still and letting anyone actually make it all the way through a book without seizing it and possibly throwing it, I thought that book had a chance. It’s mostly a song, so I thought that would capture his attention. I don’t even know what the actual song is in terms of how Sandra Boynton imagined it; I made up a tune when Selah was a baby, and that has been the official song ever since.
So, he liked it. He liked it so much that he picked up the book on his own later, and sang the song.
But don’t get distracted by the cuteness. I have a point.
Last night I read him Good Night Gorilla. This book doesn’t have many words; the story is mostly told through pictures. He listened intently to the whole thing. And then he wanted me to read it again. He repeated some things, like, “Ni ni willa.”
It wasn’t until tonight that it hit me. We have crossed one of a thousand invisible finish lines. I now have three children, and all of them are interested in books. My youngest child is too old to grab the book and bite it instead of listening to its story.
It’s hard to explain how bittersweet this is.
I haaaate the stage where they are terrible to read to. Selah was my first child, and we read to her every single night. Once my friend babysat, and she tried to read Selah a story, as per my directions. She was disappointed when Selah kept grabbing the pages. She complained, “I wanted to know if Charlie Brown got elected!” But I or her father dutifully read to her every night, through her early toddlerhood.
I wish I could say I have had this kind of stamina with my sons. But I haven’t. When they suck at being read to, I rarely read to them. Asher started being interested in books on his own, somewhere between 1.5 and 2, and mostly just benefited from Selah’s example to that point. Noah has watched Selah reading on her own, and has watched me reading to Asher, but I haven’t read to him a lot.
Now I can. He’s not a baby anymore.
I never notice when we cross these finish lines, or at least I rarely do. It’s hard to miss things like people learning to ride bikes. But it’s easy to miss things like the day nobody says the letter L like a W anymore. Or the day they want you to reread Good Night Gorilla four times instead of wanting to slam your fingers in it.
But the sweet part of the bitter is that I am one more step toward surviving my children’s childhood. I know I’m supposed to cherish every moment and yada yada. (If you have not read “Don’t Carpe Diem,” please do.) And I do cherish them. I love that in the picture above, Noah still has the most incredibly squishy baby legs. He comes to me to be held several times every day, and I always do it. I smell his hair, and kiss his soft neck, and feel like I could die of sweetness. But…I have fantasies about the day that I am a little less tired. And I cherish the hope that I will have read to them enough, and they will become good readers, and that we can read our own separate books, together. It will be sad…but it will be good, too.