We're readers. This family. We read first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We read on park benches and in cafeterias. We pack books in our luggage when we travel, and we stow others in the car every time we leave the house. We bring books to the beach and to restaurants and to amusement parks.
We're escape artists. We wander in and out of distant landscapes and other lives. We disappear between two covers and drown out the world. We make friends and enemies and memories with people and places and creatures of black and white, colored in by our imaginations.
The greatest gift life afforded me was my son. The greatest gift I gave him was the stories. I read to him in the womb, and stayed up late rocking him gently and whispering fairytales. I read to him at every meal and during every morning and every night. I read to him and he began to read to me. Little words...little syllables. Strung together stunted sentences. See dog run.
Time passed as time does. The sentences grew longer...the syllables multiplied. From board books to Golden Books...paperbacks to hardcovers. And still I read to him, and he read to me. I read to him as we waited for the bus to arrive on his first day of kindergarten. The Hardy Boys. I read to him this morning, and every morning between that first day and this one. The Hardy Boys. We're working our way through the collection. Every day, we read.
He reads his own books now. Treasures purchased from the thrift store with tightly-fisted allowance. Indulgent tomes bought with gift cards. Stacks that topple over from the library. Science fiction and fantasy co-habitate with Garfield. Transformers and Doctor Who live next to Warriors.
His teacher sends home a reading log each week. At the very top is the reading requirement...100 minutes per week. I smirk every time I sign off on the bottom...he averages twice that daily. I'm tired of filling them out...pointless wastes of paper.
I've never punished him for staying up late to read...under the covers with a flashlight. I never will. I did the same thing when I was his age. Sometimes I do it now.
We read, and I am reminded that despite everything else, I am lucky. I got just what I wanted. I dreamt of a family all curled up in a living room reading, when I was pregnant with him. I imagined soft, quiet nights with warm mugs and turning pages. I wished for it. I got just what I wanted.
When homework is light and we've time to spare, we'll while away the afternoon with books. He with his. Me with mine. We'll sit in the living room or out in the yard...next to each other and yet miles apart...traipsing about on adventures in other worlds. Disappearing.
Until he interrupts. Until he reads aloud at me while I'm still underwater...dragging me up to the surface with his voice. Interrupting my exploration...my imagination...my story. Inspired to share something he found funny or frightening or curious. Insistent that I experience it as well. Interrupting.