Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bookworm


Julia loves to read, and she especially loves to read Pooh stories. One of her favorites is when Tigger arrives in the Hundred-Acre Wood for the first time, and he introduces himself and his odd behavior by explaining, "Bouncing is what Tiggers do best!"

But you know, the girl loves to read anything. She reads morning, noon, and night; she sits downstairs on her puppy-dog chair in the living room or upstairs on her miniature camp chair in the nursery, and the floor surrounding her feet becomes ankle-deep in books as she reads and sets aside one after another after another. Well, of course, she can't actually read yet; so Good Lord, can you imagine what she'll be like when she actually can? As Christopher says, we won't have to do any parenting for ten years. She'll never even speak to us.

Yesterday Julia had a tough morning, because we were hosting playgroup at our house, and before our buddies arrived, she told me she didn't want to play with anyone--she just wanted to "read by myself." And she would, too; she HAS. But this time I decided it was time to talk about manners, and about being a good friend. So I told her that when you invite friends over to play, it's rude to go away by yourself and read in a corner, that it might hurt your friends' feelings and make them feel bad. I told her she was not allowed to go off by herself and read while her friends were over. (Do you know how bizarre it feels to tell your child she is not allowed to READ? Sheesh. Reading? THAT'S the worst behavior we have to contend with?)

Julia continued to lobby for her own interests all morning, and all through playgroup she begged me to let her go sit in her room and read books. It was really hard for her; much angsty wringing of hands occurred. (At one point she said to me, in the most plaintive, disbelieving tone possible, "Mama! Not even ONE book? I can't even just read one book Mama???") But, you know, I just had to stick with it that time. We really needed to work on the right thing to do in different situations. Of course playgroup was only 90 minutes out of the whole day, and she read books for a long time both before and after it. So she needed to not read when her friends were over.

This morning Julia began reading as soon as her breakfast was finished, and continued for an hour while I dressed and changed the baby, put her down for nap, got myself ready for the day. When I was finished, I asked her what she wanted to do together while Genevieve napped.

"I just want to read books!" Julia said from her perch on my bed where she was comfortably stretched out with a big Richard Scarry.

"But you've been reading already for a long time, honey," I countered. "Let's do something else for awhile, like play a game or dance to music."

"But Mama! I just want to read!" she said.

"Reading is great, Sweet Pea, but it's good to do other things each day, too." I persisted.

Finally she said, matter-of-factly and with total seriousness, "But Mama! Reading is what Julia does best."

Either that, or talking.

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