Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Reader

Ella loves to read. She loves books and everything about them. She loves the flow of iambic pentameter as well as the strange and wonderful rhythms and rhymes of a certain Dr. Suess. She loves pop up books, and lift a flap books, and books that hold no physical surprises equally. She used to love the taste of books and the sound of pages being torn apart, but, thankfully, she has outgrown this curiously destructive stage of reading. She now prefers her books to remain intact so that they keep their stories straight.

Every morning around nine o'clock, I am awakened by Jack's crying. He inevitably does something he's not supposed to do, earns a stern and loud matronly scolding, and finds himself in time out. The crying gets louder. (And the time out spot is right by my bedroom door. I don't think that this is intentional on the part of the wife, it's just a convenient corner. Or is it?) It is precisely this moment every morning that Ella decides it's time for Daddy to get up.

She is a very helpful little girl. And polite. She toddles up to my night table, grabs my glasses and thrusts them at me while saying, "Glasses, Daddy. Thank you, your welcome." Then she hands me a shirt from the dirty pile of laundry beside my bed. Then she hands me another shirt. And usually another one for good measure. I guess she wants me to have options. Then come the shoes, and I know it's time to excavate myself from underneath the mound of dirty laundry and search for a cup of coffee. (Ella never gives me pants or socks. The twins hate pants and socks for reasons unknown to me, and remove them as frequently as possible. Half of our day is spent putting them in pants and socks. In their toddler Utopia, pants and socks would not exist. Underwear would come with pockets, I suppose.)

Landing on the couch, I try to drink as much coffee as possible while Ella roots through her cache of books. When she finds just the right one, she plods over toward me, all red hair and grinning teeth, and shoves the book directly into my hand before climbing into my lap. As I read to her, I like to let her finish the sentences for me. It's irresistibly cute. No sooner than I pronounce, "The End", Ella is off again, digging through her stacks for another favorite read, while I slam more coffee down my gullet. She's back again, and if my hands aren't free, then, no matter, she thrusts the book underneath my chin and climbs back into position. She's an improviser, that one. This routine continues for four or five books, until Daddy decides to eat something, or Mommy decides that Daddy should take out the garbage or perform some other decidedly adult activity.

Throughout the day, Ella will lay on the floor for hours, turning page after page, reciting the rhythms and the words she can pronounce. When checking on them during naptime, Jack is usually in bed and Ella is usually on the floor with a book over her face. And lately at bedtime, we have to put the baby gate up, because Ella will open the door to let some light in, bring all of her books up to the doorway, and read in that small patch of light until she falls asleep and we can move her to her bed.

Other girls love dolls, or dressing up. Some love horses and rainbows. Some are Tomboys, and love to do little boy things and get dirty. But Ella desires none of these things. For my little girl, there is nothing like Daddy's lap and the sound of his voice reading stories about Elmo's blanket. And I secretly wish that this could go on forever, that she will always be this little girl who loves her Daddy. And loves to read.

1 comment:

Da Vintner said...

I guess most Daddy's wish their little girls could stay little forever, but they don't. However, God must have realized how hard this is on us...because he more than makes up for it by giving us grand-daughters.