READING: TO KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE
Most everyone I know is tired of hearing that I am a librarian's daughter. Especially the non-readers. What can I say? I'm lucky.
I gwas a hyper, gregarious, intelligent, creative child desperate to sing and dance my way into any heart available. My energy was boundless. This was annoying for every non-child within my radius.
I was bored. The well-adjusted children on my street had no idea what my deal was. I did not fit in. I was lonely. It was heartbreaking to me.
My busy, single-parent mother had a child constantly asking questions, wanting to do things, all while snuggling (I have a child like that too). I know this was an exhausting period of her life. My mother, in her stillness and calm, understood how to help me ground myself. She is a smart lady.
One Saturday morning after our ritual YMCA pick up and sausage-on-a-bun lunch at The Station Mall my mother took me to a bookshop. We usually went to the library after our lunch stop, I did not expect a book shop. Our weekly splurge was the Station Mall lunch. To own books of my own was a luxury I could barely wrap my head around. Books were something you got at the library.
I stared at the overwhelming variety of titles in the book racks. My mother chose a book or two for herself then recommended a few titles for me. We bought Freckle Juice by Judy Blume and another title which I wish I could remember right now. I hoped to please my reserved quiet mother (she truly deserved a much less busy daughter) by agreeing immediately to her choices although I wasn't sure about the boy on the cover of the first book. I didn't want to read a book about boys doing weird experiments.
So I read my first "non-little-kid, for real big kid" book on a rainy fall afternoon. At four pm I surprised my mom, informing her I'd finished Freckle Juice. She was clearly surprised. I had read for four hours straight which resulted in that many hours of uninterrupted thesis work for her. She realised my superpower; I was an awesome little reader. There may have been approval in her eyes. Also joy. It may have been the first time I sat still for several hours while at home.
I was worried she'd never buy me another book because I read too quickly and it was expensive. She asked me what the book was about. I gave her a summary which let her know I'd read and understood the book. She asked me if I liked it.
After that day, my mother brought titles home from her schools which she thought I'd like to read. When she went on book buying trips for work, she'd bring me new titles.
As a result of her attention, I relished Lord of the Rings when I was ten after gleefully zipping through The Chronicles of Narnia. She chose thoughtful and imaginative books for me. I experienced and loved the worlds of Earthsea, Pern, Prydian and more. I was happy. I started to feel less alone. Reading calmed my mind and soul. Day-to-day life could be still a source of anxiety but my imagination found respite and inspiration in the materials my mother provided.
My reserved (and exhausted) mother expressed her love and understanding for me through our shared love of books, a bond which changed the trajectory of my life. I stopped feeling so rejected about not fitting in although I wished I had more bookish friends.
Mom & I still talk books a lot. We are still constant readers. She's the only person I will chat with on the phone, even though she lives a ten minute walk away. We chat about what we are reading, what we want to read, and what it's like to parent hyper, gregarious, intelligent, creative children.