Feed on

Whether due to laziness, habit, or our own preferences, Matt and I have whittled down Simon’s reading list to a group of rotating favorites. Accordingly, it’s not just reading that is part of Simon’s nighttime ritual, but reading a select group of familiar books.

By now, so much time has gone by that  Simon knows a handful of books really well. He probably has done for months now. What’s new is his ability to “read” along with us. This began around the New Year with Moo, Baa, La La La, a rhyming Boynton book about animal sounds.

“The Cow says…” I read, and then pause.

“Moo” says Simon, taking his cue.

“The sheep says….” I  continue, voice trailing off.

“Baaa” bleats Simon, regular as clockwork.

And so we read the entire book together in a call-and-response fashion. Listening to Simon’s sing-songy “meow” is a highlight, as is his “nie” for “nay” and his attempt at a decent “oink.”

Evenings spent reciting Moo Baa La La La is how reading went from being a comforting ritual into an engaging game for us; it was the beginning of storytime transitioning from a solo to a sweet duet.

The next book Simon learned to “read” along with me was I Love You, Goodnight, an amazingly sappy bedtime book I was a little embarrassed to buy and am a lot embarrassed to love as much as I do. This book depicts a mother mouse telling her child how much she loves him (or her, the gender is never stated).

“I love you like I love blueberry pancakes,” she says.

“I love you like I love strawberry milkshakes,” he counters.

“I love you like frogs love flies,” she offers.

“I love you like pigs love pies!” he replies.

The similes stretch to vines loving [to kill, I always add] trees, mice loving cheese, wind loving blowing, plants loving growing, boots loving to splash in puddles, and [teddy] bears loving kissing and cuddles. Starting about six weeks ago, Simon took over everything after the “I love you like” part. He stumbles a bit on the boots line, and his bear loves kisses more than cuddles, but all the rest is there. Pigs, pies, frogs, flies, even the “win loves bwowing” part.

And even though I know he knows it, and even though I know kids have great memories and do things like this everywhere, every line he repeats feels momentous to me. I must say “that’s great!” and kiss him ten times before we close that book.

In just the past week or so, Simon has raised the stakes and tackled My First Mother Goose, or “Mommy Goose” as he calls it. He knows who likes their Pease Porridge hot and who prefers it cold (Matt and I fill in family names for the “some” in the rhyme); he can recite “One Two Buckle My Shoe” through the nine-ten line with very little prompting; and he fabulously knows that when Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town, it’s because “eight o’clock is bedtime.”*

Avid readers that we are, Matt and I are delighted to see Simon take pleasure in literature. It is such a fantastic thing to share, and such a lovely way to end our days together. It is also one of the very few things that makes me look with happy anticipation to the years ahead of us, when Simon and I can share more favorites, rather than look back and lament all the time gone by.

More than any of that, though, it’s a perfect illustration of how mundane things can seem so extraordinary when you watch a child learn them, and how they can indeed transform into something seemingly miraculous when that child is your own.

*I just learned that in the original the children have to be in bed because it’s after ten o’clock. Simon must never know this!

One Response to “Mommy Goose and Other Tales”

  1. blg says:

    We have a man from Ghana working here in tech support. When he returned my newly repaired laptop, I asked him, “Is it beautiful?” and he replied, “As beautiful as Sunday morning.” And he told me that in his country, that was about as beautiful as it got.

    That is what your I Love You, Goodnight story made me think of.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.