“Mom, will you read to me tonight?” That request, now an uncommon occurrence, feels very special. At 3rd grade, my son mostly reads to himself, but every now and then he joins in for a bedtime story I read to his little sister. So when he asked me to read to him from his current fantasy series the other night, it practically melted my heart.
Storytime has always been a magical part of parenthood for me. Even after the most frustrating day filled with toddler meltdowns, sibling bickering, and tears (shed by all parties), storytime has served as my restorative (resSTORYative?) time with my kids.
This simple, nighttime ritual of snuggling and sharing a book together started when they were itty bitty. Holding them on my lap, we’d look at a board book together. Their chubby baby hand trying to grab and turn the page, cooing at a favorite picture or part of the story. Now, our well-loved, gummed, sticky board books have mostly been retired, and our evenings are filled with an array of picture books and chapter books. And throughout, I’ve found so much truth and beauty in these books — wisdom on navigating and understanding emotions, building friendships, and supporting and loving people.
But the most important part of storytime for me has been simply being together. Being still together. In a small way, pausing time, to breathe and just be together. The act of sharing a book is where the magic is.
These days, if I don’t hear my enthusiastic, athletic son bombing through the house, chances are he is tucked in his room, quietly devouring a book. So most nights, he prefers to read on his own, curled up in the kid-sized blue armchair his grandparents gave him for his birthday.
I love how much he loves reading. I love how he gets lost in a book, tuning the world out (except when he ignores me when he’s supposed to be getting ready for school). We are raising a reader and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that’s why I treasure those now rare moments when he wants to read with together. I know they are fleeting. As a metaphor junkie I can’t help but see this whole raising a reader thing as a bittersweet parenting metaphor. We’re raising him to be independent – to be a responsible, thoughtful, kind human.
We’re raising him to read to himself.
But tonight we’re reading together. I sneak peeks of him while I’m reading, studying the curve of his ear, his smooth, little boy face, gradually growing into a big boy face. I feel the warmth of his body and the rhythm of his breathing. I bury my face in his hair and just smell. It takes me back to nursing him right before bedtime, singing a song, rocking him, and taking deep whiffs of that intoxicating baby head smell.
And now here we are. Right here. Sharing this book. Sharing this moment with my 8-year-old.