A favourite image: falling asleep to books

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

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My kids have a lot of habits. Some of these I can’t stand, and others I really like.

On the can’t stand side of things there’s: climbing on tables, playing “bash in the butt” (a glorified name for I’m hitting you everywhere), putting fingers in toilet seats and taking out all the plastic cutlery from a too-easy-to-access cupboard.

On the really like side of things there’s: reading books to one another although neither possess the skill of reading, playing trains, playing planes, expending 95 per cent of their energy to climb on a couch and snuggle with me and trying to talk in unicorn.

But the one habit Leah has developed that I really, really, really like is falling asleep with an open book on her stomach when it’s bed time.

Now, at the age of three, Leah can read her name and that’s it. But that doesn’t stop her from spending half an hour getting in and out of bed at night finding the books with the best pictures and best story for her to make up herself. We’ll hear her inventing stories and are able to tell which book she’s looking through based on the conversations she’s having with her best buddies.

“And the kitten mommy yelled at the little kids because they’re forgetful,” she’ll say to Grover.

“Three Little Kittens,” we’ll guess from our bedroom where we sit listening to her.

“Oh no, the car went over a cliff because he’s an angry bear,” she’ll quote from the next book.

“Berenstain Bears and the Car Race.”

It goes on for three or four books and then her reading gets slower and the footsteps from her room stop.

“You’re getting tired Grover? Me too.”

We can tell they’re still looking at a book though because every now and then she’ll rearrange Grover so he can see better. Then she’ll start singing Baa Baa Black sheep or ABCD and we’ll know sleep time is near. After about a total of half an hour of reading activity, she finally falls asleep. And it’s then that we make our way from our room to hers to get a glimpse of one of our favourite parenting sights.

This is one of those images I hope I can always call back to memory. When she’s 80 and reading me a goodnight story I want to look in her eyes and see the sleepy child who fell asleep with books on her belly. It makes me grateful for little things like having a daughter who sleeps deeply so I can watch her without fear of setting off the typical child banshee wail. Charlie is now getting into bedtime too, and there are many comforts in life I’d give up to be able to creep into her room at night and see her fast asleep with a book in her hand.

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