“Read the book!” “Read the BOOK!” My son keeps asking me in his very loud outside voice. As he’s asking me, he’s also poking me with the book.
After having spent most of the day running errands, picking up after the kids, making multiple meals and squeezing in some work, I should be ready to spend some quality time with my son.
But I’m not. I’m just tired. “Not now, sweetie,” I say softly with a hint of frustration, “maybe later.” My eyelids feel heavy and all I want to do is just lie down on my bed.
“Read me a book mommy!” He says again. They don’t give up, do they? I look over at him ready to say no but he’s looking straight at me with his big brown eyes waiting for my response. I freeze for what seems like minutes but is only a few seconds.
Then I snap out of my semi-coma and realize that my SON is asking me to read him a book and I should listen to him. So, I take a deep breath, sit down on the floor next to him and say “OK, sweetie, why don’t you jump into my lap and give me the book.” His face lights up and he comes tumbling towards me.
As I read the book to him (the same book I’ve read to him at least 100 times) I can feel him relaxing into my arms and resting the back of his head against my chin. He is concentrating on the book with singular focus. All of a sudden, as I’m reading the story, I feel his little fingers tapping against my knee as if he’s playing the piano.
For a split second, I stop reading and concentrate on his fingers. The pause is too short for him to notice. I continue reading, but now most of my focus is on his little fingers and the delicate way they are connecting with my knee. With each word, the frustration and fatigue melt away and I feel the kind of pure joy only your child can give you. Without realizing it, I’m smiling as I read the end of the story. I don’t want it to end. I want him to keep tapping my knee with his little soft fingers.
“Read it again mommy!” He says. “Of course, sweetie. Let’s read it again.”
Remember all those Hollywood movies where the cute toddler is carrying around their favorite “blankie” or teddy? That one item that made them feel safe and loved, the item that mom couldn’t leave home without because her little precious bundle of joy was so attached to it.
The toddler would hug it tight, kiss it or drag it behind him as he walked down the street holding mommy’s hand. It was such a picture perfect image, the baby holding the raggedy bear or doggie or worn out blanket tight against his chubby cheek as he fell asleep in his crib like an angel. Ahhh, isn’t that adorable…
Well, guess what, my reality didn’t mirror the movies. No, my son never fell in love with any adorable stuffed animal or blanket. No, my son fell in love with a HOE! Yup, a BIG RED PLASTIC HOE (which is usually dirty because he actually uses it as a hoe in the yard). And now, when I go to any kind of event or gathering, I need to take the hoe with me because it’s my son’s security HOE (notice his death grip on the hoe in the picture)! And when my little chubby cheeked angel falls asleep in his crib, he’s hugging a three-foot long HOE.
It’s more funny than embarrassing but sometimes when I’m trying to put him in the car or going around a tight turn in the stroller the hoe can present a slight logistical problem. And I can just imagine how interesting it’s going to make going through airport security (“no it’s not a threat to national security, it’s my son’s security HOE”)!
But, I’ve learned to love the hoe because it makes my son happy and it reminds me that, like most things in my life, reality is a lot stranger, funnier and more interesting than fiction!