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Don’t Read Me A Story

Being good at many things is natural for most people. Determining what those things are is usually more difficult. I never thought about writing earlier in life. Nobody ever thought anything I had ever done was worth mentioning. I was a “serious” child according to my family’s mythology and read a lot. I remember one year when my secret goal was to read every orange-bound book in our neighborhood library. They were the biographies and I loved reading about how other people navigated through life. Most of our school lives were superseded by world events and the little bit of fun we managed to have in high school were mostly stolen away moments. Life seemed bigger than us; what we did was less important on the individual scale. I wanted Junior and Daisy to grow up knowing what they were good at. They were very different and were good at their own things. If they had some recognition about what their skills were, they could make better choices earlier in terms of college and careers. I wanted them both to go father than Steve and I had gone. Opportunities were limitless if you knew what you wanted.

I always go to any event at school that involves helping out in the off chance that I could glean some information from talking to one of the children’s  teachers. Junior’s teachers were good about sending home a note when he wasn’t working up to par or some other weird event occurred. I hadn’t heard much from Daisy’s teachers yet but she seems to like school and goes without complaint. When the Mother’s Club decided to have a spring drive to collect books, I thought it would be a good event to help out with. We could clear out some used books at the same time we cleaned out the bookcase. I asked Junior to come and tackle his collection to have his input on what we didn’t think he would read again. We started by taking all of his books off of the shelves and sorted and stacked them. Junior gave away some books easier than others. I realized when we were done and ready to box the books that he had given up more adventure books and kept the biographies. I even asked him again if he had sorted the piles correctly. Eventually I had to ask why he had wanted to keep the books about people. His answer was simple and to the point. Junior said that he liked reading about real people more than fake people. It was a good description of how he felt about fiction. I could identify with liking real people more. I let Junior place his treasures back on the shelves while I took the donation box out to the car.

The next day, I arrived at school to help the other mothers sort through books and prepare them to go to the donation center. There was a huge selection of books. It really made me think about the importance of keeping a better supply of books available for the children. When school was over, I drove Junior and Daisy over to the book store. Instead of heading right to my favorite parts of the displays, we went back to the children’s section and I told the kids to pick out some books. They immediately wanted to know how many. I wanted to leave that question unanswered to see what their response would be so I just told them that we would discuss how many they could buy after they looked around. It must be a natural habit for younger people to just open a book, get comfortable and start reading. In about three minutes, both of them were on the floor enjoying different books. Each was examined with some secret definition of whether it would make the cut. After a few minutes of standing, I finally gave up and joined them on the floor, checking out my own choices. The saying that books can’t be judged by a cover may be true, but it is pretty much the way we decide to look inside of one. Junior had a small stack next to him of possible choices and Daisy was slowly picking through the books at her level. After about 30 minutes, I told the children to start to wrap up their decisions. There were two groans, which I interpreted as a good sign. There was some last minute horse trading between a couple of titles, but each child ended up with three books. I thought that was a good sign; not greedy or frivolous and manageable reading. We purchased the books and headed home.

After dinner time was quiet that night and both Junior and Daisy disappeared into their rooms to get in some extra bedtime reading time. Steve asked me if they were sick but I explained that we had bought some new books and the reaction on his face was a mixture of surprise and pride. One of the most heart-warming feelings of parenting is knowing you have good kids. It gives you a sense of relief to know you haven’t completely messed them up. I also liked that the children were identifying what interested them. I was going to start paying closer attention to these choices to understand where their paths were headed. I didn’t want their everyday choices to go unnoticed. In the end, I realized that books are very personal choices. What makes one more intriguing than another is our own point of view. It’s nice to know that my own young children are developing their own tastes.

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