One of the things I dreamt about most when I dreamed of having children was reading to them in bed, all snuggled beneath the covers, with their heads resting on me.
They are 2 ½ and 1 ½ and I’m still waiting for this particular dream of mine to unfold. You see, I have two boys. I started reading to each of them when they were in my belly. Now, the readings have become a part of our bedtime ritual. It was getting pretty exciting when Luke started to learn words and we’d slowly browse through a book – I’d point to a picture and he’d holler out the matching word. As Luke learned the alphabet, we’d search the pages for letters he recognized. That was the extent of our readings. I knew that any day now, with excitement, he’d want to start reading the stories along with me.
This summer, we got him a sturdy, Cars toddler bed (within the first hour the Cars sticker was ripped off). That night, I climbed into his red bed adorned with Toy Story sheets and he hopped in right next to me. This is it, I thought, anticipating the big moment. I pulled the sheets up over us, opened the book and began to read the first page of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Little brother Zealand—hearing me reading, decided to climb up, too. How exciting! He crawled over me, his knees poking my shin; toenails scraping over my thigh. But he found a spot, and there we were. I pulled the sheet up over us and reread the first page so Zealand wouldn’t miss a thing.
On page three, the hungry little blonde comes across the porridge. Luke had turned his body 90 degrees with his feet propped on his bedside table. He was revving his engine apparently, ‘brrrm brrrrm’ as he announced he was a car and going really, really fast. Zealand was tugging and bending and shoving the page I was trying to read. He had a mission to destroy the page, not read it. I swiftly pulled the book from his grip as if I were a three-year-old on the playground, rightfully grabbing back my toy. He pulled himself to his feet and began to bounce away. Then, Luke flipped over in a millisecond and jumped out of bed, his elbow flailing into my chest, his other hand smashing my stomach flat, and snatched the book.
“No more book, Mommy!” he announced.
I was heartbroken! My cozy little dream. Then just frustrated…
I yanked the book back and said in my stern mommy voice, “We are going to sit here and read this book, right now, or I am going to leave this room!” That voice is usually saved for moments when he hits his brother or when Zealand tries to scale the entertainment center. I quickly realized it would take more than a new toddler bed to sway these boys from their inherent verve.
Defeated, I looked at them, opened my arms out to the room, inviting them to run and play, and pulled myself up on the bed. I made a comfy spot and read the familiar story of a broken chair and a little girl fast asleep. In the background, I heard car noises—helicopter noises, a basketball bouncing off the wall, the sound of Zealand climbing up the outside of his crib, the click of the fan being turned on and off, then on again, and their loud, boyish laughter.
I remembered some of the many conversations I’d had with my friends who had daughters. The majority of them will cuddle up for book after book after book. As I glance up, I wish that at least one of them would want to sit still and read with me…but seeing the joy on their faces as they play with one another into the wee moments before bed, well, I’ll be darned if that doesn’t delight me!