He’s a climber, a dancer, a contortionist, a performance artist whose medium is half-eaten food and body fluids. Could have swore that you left a bag of chips on the back of the couch? Yeah, they’re gone. Looking for something irreplaceable, toxic, expensive, or dear to you? My apologies, it’s gone. (Amateur!).

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He launches himself onto the couch like a recruit mounting the climbing wall on an Army obstacle course. He giggles with pride and throws himself in to you with no sense of harm but affection, collapses himself down on the cushions with passionate abandon, and chews on the furniture like an unruly dog fresh out of the shelter.

“See-see!”
“Up, up, up-uuuuup!”
“Mama, mama, mama, mama,…MAAAAAAA! …Mama-mama?! MAAAMAAA!”
“Bad-bad-bad-baaaaad!”
“Sis-or, sis-or? Sis-Ooooor?!”
“I do, I do!… (In a whisper) I did do.”
“Nuh, nuh-nuuuuh!” With fervent head shaking.
“Yeah-yeah.” With enthusiastic nodding.
If it’s worth saying at all, it’s worth it to say repeatedly. He’s like a miniature Gregorian monk but hairier and more violent.

Nora has been given supervised access to the tablet for word games to practice her reading. Owen must have visual hallucinations of a red flag because he takes this as a cue to ram into her chair and growl. Aah, our son, fighting literacy with one self-imposed head contusion at a time. The only time he enjoys books is when he’s needing to poop and even then he wants to read to himself. I’m ok with that.

We screwed up with Nora and encouraged reading from birth. Now we have to read to her constantly and, I’ll ashamedly admit something, I hate kids’ books. Almost as much as I hate cartoons. Hate is a strong word…abhor maybe? Encite-feelings-of-stabbiness?

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So when she started reading last year I almost wept with relief more than the swelling pride I felt. It was akin to that first sip of water after a long run (if vague memory is correct). Then a sobering, humbling, reminder screached at me from the  stained knees of my yoga pants below while drooling peas onto my feet. Oh, shit, it starts again…Oh, (sigh) we get to do it again.

Barbara Ann Kelso

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