Isabella has Madeline memorized. She sits with the huge volume on her lap and turns the pages and recites the words as she flips. Almost always on the proper page; but sometimes reciting a page or two ahead of the one she’s looking at. Sometimes her intonation is very three, sing-song with her little mispronunciations. Sometimes, though, I hear my voice. The way I read the sentence. A strange echo.
The first time I stood in the other room, almost holding my breath as she read. Could she make it all the way through on her own? Some days later Dom came to me and told me she’d accomplished it. Had I forgotten to tell him? One detail lost in the sea of details.
Sophie meanwhile is all imitation. She grabs a little board book or a Beatrix Potter (Such a friendly small size those are!) and plops down next to Bella and begins to “read.” Or she opens the book and carries it around to “sing.” Mostly Amen and Alleluia. But sometimes other syllables I can’t make out.
Sophie’s now at the stage where she stands next to my chair, book in hand, demanding to sit in my lap and be read to. She doesn’t usually have the patience for me to slowly turn and read every page. She wants to flip back and forth and look at pictures, mostly. But sometimes she does want me to read the text, at least part of it. She’s aware certain words go with the book and wants me to say them. So the most satisfying books right now are either the ones that are only pictures, like the word book that doesn’t require more than pointing and naming, or the nursery rhyme board book that I can simply recite the rhymes while she turns pages.
Sometimes Bella reads to Sophie. Oh do I look forward to the days when that can happen more often. I had a flash the other day of how tired I am of certain of the books I’ve read to Bella upwards of a hundred times and suddenly realized that I’m about to go through the same with Sophie…. and then there will be Benedict. I’ve already memorized them…. how often can I re-read them to children for whom they are brand new? I am suddenly very, very glad we laid in a new store of board books for Sophie’s first birthday. (Thanks, again, wonderful grandparents!!!!)
Now for the first time I’m beginning to glimpse the wonder that is the library from the point of view of the parent. The library where you can bring the books back after a few weeks and not have them underfoot to be shoved in your face. Where you can find new books, the thrill of the unfamiliar. Ah yes, and where they can play on a rainy morning when you just have to get out of the house.