As Cuckoo was running upstairs to get ready for bed, he hollered, "Do we get to read a book tonight?" (They didn't last night because they pitched a fit when it was time to go to bed. Tantrum at bedtime means no book.)
Giant heard him and said to me, "Man, he really likes it when people read books."
"Oh, so did you once upon a time. All day long you would ask me to read to you. And as soon as I sat down to do so, three other little ones came running, each with his own book to give me."
"I remember when you read the Narnia books to us at bedtime."
That's when Phoenix jumped into the conversation. "I remember the book, The Seven Silly Eaters. I was the one that liked milk served warm."
That sparked Giant. "Buttercup liked pink lemonade. And Star was applesauce."
"And you were oatmeal with no lumps."
Giant went and tracked down the book. Well, what's left of it. Over these many years it has been well-used. The cover is gone. One page is all the way out, simply placed in the spot where it should be.
But I grabbed it and ran upstairs. I couldn't let one more night go by without reading it to the little boys.
See, it is practically a history of our family.
We discovered it on a routine trip to the library back when the big kids were wee little ones. We brought it home and fell in love with the story and the pictures. So much of it was a spitting image of our life.
We had to buy the book.
It is a great story of a family that adds a new child every year, and each child has a certain food that he prefers. In the beginning, the mom is thrilled to heat her firstborn son's milk to just the right temperature.
With each child she gets a little more weary, making each special food from scratch every day.
The order of the kids followed ours. Boy, girl, boy, boy. One born each year just like mine.
What made the book even better are the fabulous illustrations. The detail. The color. It was my house. The kids in the book were doing the exact same thing you would catch mine doing. The toys in the pictures were the toys my kids played with. With each child, the house got messier and messier, just like mine. And with each child, the look of the mom became more and more frazzled, just like me.
As the kids would cuddle up around me, I'd read the book. (all in rhyme by the way)
With the turn of each page, yells of, "That's me!" would start up. They'd point out the naughty things "Star" was doing. The book "Phoenix" was reading. The orders "Buttercup" was issuing. The shy observing "Giant" was doing.
We read that book millions of times.
And each time we would find new interesting details. The way their pile of clutter resembled ours. The bouncy chair that looked a whole lot like ours. The way Dad was calmly portrayed on every page.
I haven't read it to them in over five years. But they remember it.
On days like today.
A day when I thought I was going to write a post titled, "Lupus won't kill me. Raising teenagers will."
You've heard time and again that you should read to your child. I couldn't agree more. However, there are lots of ways to read to your child(ren). I used to think that reading to a child was simple. I had no idea that reading aloud was a skill until I heard Hubby read to Phoenix for the first time. If you'd like some ideas on how to read to your kids and help them learn to read, I wrote some tips here.
Find a book to which your kids can relate that you enjoy reading. Read it often.
Years from now, memories of that book may just change your whole day.
Excuse me while I go order a new copy of Seven Silly Eaters. The kids and I are going to be walking down memory lane. And I'll need a copy to read to the grandkids someday.