Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Once and Future Reader

When Linda was pregnant, I had visions of reading to Violet. She was going to sit in my lap, her luminous eyes filled with rapt attention, shifting her gaze back and forth between my face and the page. I would finish the book and close the cover, and her small, chubby fingers would reach, gently tapping the book, signaling me to read it again. “All right, honey,” I would chuckle, giving in. “That’s ten times, but I’ll read it once more.” In reality, reading a book to Violet while she’s in my lap is like trying to read to a frightened cat. Every muscle in her body strains to shoot her off of my lap, and the book is nothing more than leverage. This struggle has gone on for many weeks, but recently, I noticed how content she is sitting and strapped into her chair. While we prep dinner or go about other household chores, Violet sits and gums her toys, bangs them together, shouts, and has an all around good time. So, now when I want to read to her, and I try to do it every day, I make the proper preparations. I sit her in her chair and fasten the slender green straps around her shoulders, buckling her in place. I might choose two books, three if I’m feeling optimistic. Usually by the second or third page of the first one, she’s reaching frantically for the pages, like an angry gorilla, straining to reach the taunting children just out of reach. Sometimes, if I pitch my voice high or low enough, or the colors on the page catch her off guard, she grows quiet, hands still, and she looks at me, listening. There’s no telling how long this will last, but it reminds me of the first time I was upright on a bicycle. I knew another fall was coming and coming soon, but those few moments of success, the wind blowing in my face and pedals turning beneath my feet, were glorious. I also knew that in order to stretch those good moments out, I would have to keep at it. Falling and falling until the upright moments outnumbered the ones on the ground. So, I keep reading to Violet, looking forward to the day when she can sit on my lap, turning the pages, shifting her gaze back and forth between my face and the book. When I finish, she will tap the cover, signaling me to read it again.
261 days old

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