Last night I pulled out the dozen or more non-fiction children’s books I have for Emma.
“Pick two,” I instructed, fanning them out for Emma to see.
Emma pointed to Monster Bugs & Escape North – The Story of Harriet Tubman, bypassing Volcanos, Whales, Big Cats, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington’s Dog. “This one?” Emma said.
“Okay. Monster Bugs and Harriet Tubman, it is!”
“Say it with your mouth closed,” Emma said, putting her hand over my mouth. ”Monster Bugs!” she demonstrated with her lips together so that it sounded more like “mummerbum.”
I began reading in an animated voice, lips sealed as Emma shrieked with laughter. ”Hab you eber looked ab a bug up clobe?” I read. Every time I opened my mouth to annunciate the words she would cover my mouth with her hand. ”Emmy stop!” I said, twisting away from her hand.
“Mouth closed!” Emma laughed.
“Okay, one more sentence with my mouth closed and then we’re going to read it the other way,” I told her.
Nic, who came to see what all the laughter was about, sat next to me on Emma’s bed. ”Don’t worry Mom. I’ll make sure she doesn’t cover your mouth again,” he reassured me.
“You might see horns…” I began, as Emma clapped her hand firmly over my mouth.
“Emma! Let Mommy read the story,” Nic said, laughing.
“But the beetle fires boiling-hot gas from its rear end,” I read.
“I love this book,” Nic said, peering over my shoulder at the picture of the beetle shooting gas into an unsuspecting mouses mouth and nose. ”That is so awesome!”
“Mummerbum!” Emma laughed.
As we continued to make our way through the book, with Nic asking for clarification on specific bugs, particularly the more gruesome and scary ones and Emma repeating the words with her mouth closed, I thought of how when I was pregnant with Emma I looked forward to reading stories to both the children. When Emma was little she didn’t have any patience for books and only was interested in them if we allowed her to hold them so she could flip through their pages. The book and its pages interested her, the act of flipping the pages methodically without really looking at the pictures seemed far more interesting to her than the story within the book. But in the last few years her interest in books has increased and now she seems to genuinely want us to read to her, even requesting specific books while rejecting others. It was wonderful to see her looking at the illustrations, pointing to the hairy tarantula while saying, “Maranmula!” with her mouth closed.
Nic was impressed with the Stink bug and the Praying Mantis who cleans its face like a cat after consuming a baby bird.
When I finished reading Monster Bugs, we moved onto Escape North! A quarter of the way through, Nic nudged me and pointed to Emma.
I looked over to see she had fallen asleep.
“We’ll finish this one tomorrow night,” I whispered to Nic.
“No! Read me the rest,” he said.
“Okay. I’ll read it again to Emma tomorrow.”
“Good idea, Mom,” Nic said snuggling down next to me.