Two Pretzels: When the stars collide and things go the way you wished...

July 5, 2016

When the stars collide and things go the way you wished...

So when I was pregnant I had these rainbow-y / unicorn-y ideas about what it would be like to raise a daughter. There were all of these things that I wanted to introduce her to:
  • Lionel Richie and the incredible contribution he's given to the entire mundo.
  • A love of dogs. (I am indifferent about don't love cats.)
  • The notion that humor ultimately helps every situation. (She's learning.)
  • Crafts. I couldn't wait to do crafts and to color.
  • And lastly, books. Oh books. There are so many amazing books to introduce her to...
  • And reading. Oh, the reading...
While Lila has proven to not adore Lionel Richie as much as I do. (No kidding, last Sunday she said that Justin Bieber was a better singer. I nearly fell to the floor in a show of distress and disbelief... Still getting over that one. Thank goodness her sister was singing, "Say you, say me..." today...)

Lila does love dogs and knows we'll never have a cat. (I may or may not have told her that I was allergic...) 

She tells jokes, we laugh.

We color. 

And she's liked books since she was a wee one. When she was a teeny person, she'd sit and "read" in cozy corners  (or laundry baskets, with her bunny Petal) for long periods of time.

She's always loved books.



But then there's the reading thing...

...reading hasn't come easy in our home. Why? She's bilingual. Learning two different languages is hard. It can be really frustrating.

So, here we are, finishing up 1st grade this week and tonight... oh tonight, my heart jumped for joy.

Here's what happened.


On Monday she brought home a book from the beloved library at school. (Nearly everyday she spends her recess in the library. She loves it there. It's a sweet, welcoming space and aside from the farm at the school, it's her favorite place.) 

So the book she brought home? It's a hard-back, chapter book in English. 

It's Tuesday and she's on page 32.

This is Donald Trump "yuge" for us.

So, I tried to play it off super cool when she told me this morning, "I was allowed to rent* this book from the library for the summer. But I'm going to try to finish it before we leave for vacation... I'm going to read it everyday..."

(!!! YAY!)
[*Yes, she "rents" books from the library. #translationIssue #BiLingualChildren]

So, tonight at bedtime she was in her top bunk with sick-Vivi in the bottom.

It was lights out time, but Lila asked to keep reading.

"Is it ok? If I just keep reading?"

Um...

Absolutely. (My heart is literally doing cartwheels. You can read ALL NIGHT IF YOU WANT TO.)

"Sure, Lila. I'll be back in a few."

So I go back in to check on her about 10 minutes later and she's huddled, in her bed, reading...

Oh, the memories of my life came pouring back in. My Mom would make me good to bed and then she'd ALWAYS give me 30 minutes to read. But she and I both knew I'd stay up far later than that 30 minutes, reading and reading and reading... So many late nights, so many amazing books.

Sigh.

"Listen to this, Mommy... this is so funny."

She read me an excerpt. And giggled.

And my heart skipped a beat.

That's it! Oh, sweet girl. That's the power of books. You get to fly away and become part of a different world. Keep going, sweet girl.... laugh, cry, feel it all! Just keep reading!

So I said, "Ok, Lila. Honestly, just 5 more minutes..."

(I have to be a parent, right?)

I went back in 20 minutes later.

She's asleep.
Little reading light on.
Book at her side.

Her Mommy's heart (and face) smiling...

::

Boom.

Mic dropped.

YES.



::

When they're babies and then toddlers, the milestones come fast and furiously. They're sleeping through the night, speaking, crawling, walking...

And you as a parent? You totally take credit for it. "I know, she's eating solids. Isn't that great? She even eats avocado. My child is an avocado-eating genius. Look at her. Be in awe."

...as they get older, the milestones are just as consequential, but they're less about motor skill development and more about real human being development. And? We don't talk about 'em as much.

Still, these changes, I'm learning - are just as cool as the ones we experienced years ago when she made us parents.

::



I know that as parents it's imperative that we don't force ourselves on our children; we need to allow them to be who they are and develop their own tastes.  We need to make sure that they know that they matter, that they're accepted as they are right now. There is nothing my children can do to separate me from loving them. But we're here to shape them, guide them... mold them...

When I was younger, my Mom read. My Grandma read. My Dad read. My sister read. Reading was a thing. It was a hobby. The library was my second home. I loved garage sales and yard sales and thrift stores so I could find new titles to read. It was what we did. It's part of who I am and I adore it and knowing that one of the things I adore just might be adored by my daughter fills my heart with joy.

Some of my favorite memories are lying next to my Mom in bed, even as an adult, snacking and reading well into the night... a comfortable silence between us, except for the occasional snicker or gasp at whatever was happening in our respective books.

I miss that time. 

More sighs...




I'll hold out hope that one day, my adult Lila Pickle will be lying next to me in bed, snacking and reading, and snickering and gasping right next to me. She in her world, me in mine, still... together.

I hope that her sister joins us, too. All three of us, in silence, reading... together.

And this is how Shirley will live on through my babies.

We'll do what I did with her.

And then they'll do with their babies what I did with them.

::

And that's what this is all about.



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