Almost every night after Emma has brushed her teeth and flossed, she will find me and say a version of – “Mommy time to read stories now.” Last night I found her in her bed. I stood in the doorway and waited to see if she would say anything. “Mommy read stories?” she said.
“Em, do you like The Wind in the Willows? Or should we find something else to read?”
“I like Wind Wills,” she answered.
So I picked up from where we’d left off the night before and began reading about Mole, who having smelled his old home returns to it with Rat accompanying him, despite the fact that it’s late and a snow storm is threatening.
Emma nestled against me, as she almost always does, with her head on my shoulder, sucking her thumb, about thirty tiny shreds of what was once a down stroller blanket strewn about her neck. The Wind in the Willows, for those not familiar with it was published in 1908. The lyrical language tells a beautiful story about four friends – Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger – and their various adventures along the Thames river. I don’t ask Emma questions about the stories I read to her during bedtime. I don’t want her to have to work. I want her to feel no pressure. I have no idea what she takes in or even understands, the only thing I know is that she enjoys being read to, just as I did when I was young.
My mother read to my sister and me Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, My Family and Other Animals, while my father could be heard reading to my brothers in the living room, such tales as The Three Musketeers, King Arthur and other stories involving sword fighting and adventure. I much preferred the stories my mother read and would lay my head on her shoulder, just as Emma does with me.
I used to pause occasionally and make a comment such as, “Oh I wonder what Ramona will do. She seems sad that her Mom has to work and isn’t home when she gets home from school.” Emma usually said nothing or if I lingered for too long, would say, impatiently, “Keep reading.” or “Don’t stop.”
Being read to still conjures up fond memories of snuggling in my parents bed with my mother and sister, sometimes falling asleep, other times, listening to the antics of various animals and characters while feeling safe and loved. I can only hope I am providing Emma with similar memories.
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