By Beck

My oldest child loves to read, which is pretty pleasing to me. I’ve always been bookish and one of the things that I wanted for my kids was for them to love reading, too. It’s funny, these things we base our identities on, these things that we want our children to carry.

And so my oldest child loves reading, like me. She is a social, cheerful kid who also happens to have a book tucked away in her backpack wherever she goes, which seems like a lovely soulful balance. And she’s at that pivoting age when childhood starts heading away from her with each day that passes and older parents start warning you to just wait. Just wait till next year, just wait till she’s 12, 13, 14. It’s worrisome and I wish people would cut it out.

Meanwhile, she likes reading.

Her books are always about the same things: fairies, unicorns, girls who don’t like each other very much at first but then get to know each other during some sort of mild adventure and who will now be best friends FOREVER, talking cats, boarding schools, dolls that are secretly alive. I have yet to see any books about vampires or boyfriends or shopping or sneaking out of the bedroom window late at night to see your much older boyfriend with a van or accidental pregnancies or girls who are dying way too young. So we’re okay for right now.

If I was reading a book about her childhood, about our family, the end of the chapter would be coming into sight – maybe not quite yet, but in a page or two. Another chapter would be about to begin and other people are hissing at me that I won’t like it, that the nice part of the story is almost over. And then The Girl looks up at me from whatever she’s reading, her steady grey-green eyes the same as always and I think that we have pages and pages to go, that this story will be nice forever.

Beck blogs at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

29 Responses to Reading
  1. Stephanie
    September 24, 2009 | 4:58 pm

    Beautiful, Beck.

    Carter stands outside waiting for the school bus reading his library book. Just like I did.


  2. Mary-LUE
    September 24, 2009 | 5:20 pm

    It’s so hard to KNOW that the next chapter will be difficult. That age got EASIER for me with my son. But maybe a girl will be different. I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up being very close to her, even in these years. In the meantime, we don’t want to start reading the next chapter before this one is over!

  3. Louise
    September 24, 2009 | 5:31 pm

    I cried before my thirteenth birthday–I had always heard so much about teenagers being interested in boys and makeup and being all Baby-Sitters-Club, and I was devastated because I just wanted to keep being a kid. One of the greatest things my mom ever did for me was tell me that it was okay, I didn’t have to change who I was just because everyone assumed all teenage girls are idiots.

    So maybe this next chapter is going to be beautiful, too. After all, who would read at all if every story read exactly the same?

  4. Nicole
    September 24, 2009 | 5:40 pm

    I HATE when people tell me “just wait until you get to age (fill in the blank).” People have said that to me about my kindergartener, when I say he is enjoying school. “Oh, wait until junior high, he won’t like it then!” I know that teenage years are difficult, but really. Do we need to reinforce that constantly? And everyone is different. There are bumpy parts in every age category, I think. No need to focus exclusively on that, right?

  5. Erin
    September 24, 2009 | 6:07 pm

    Another amazing post, Beck.

    I try to imagine my girls’ jouney into adolescence and it’s scary for me. I was a nerd at school, I was the butt of a lot of jokes, and was certainly not in the popular crowd. All I wanted was for people to like me.

    That’s all I want for my girls. I just beg and plead to whatever higher power is above and hope that they will lead happy, fun, and fulfilling lives and not have to deal with the kind of junk I did.

    Your daughter sounds lovely. I bet she takes after her mother.

  6. Nowheymama
    September 24, 2009 | 6:35 pm

    Well, I was already weepy today. This just sealed the deal. In the nicest possible way, of course.

  7. Omaha Mama
    September 24, 2009 | 6:51 pm

    Can I just tell you that I was a teen who pretty much liked my parents? And listened to what they said and cared what they thought? While being completely over-dramatic about everything and completely boy-crazy…I was pretty much a good kid. Which I fully hope for from my own girl. And the reading thing too, that’s awesome. B told me yesterday reading her her TALENT, said by her with much pride. I was a happy mom.

  8. Tracy
    September 24, 2009 | 6:55 pm

    All I can say is that I LOVE my teens! I know my oldest reads your blog, and even reads it to his college friends, and corresponds with you via twitter and such. C’mon. Good parenting produces good kids, and YOU are a good parent.

    Yes, a new chapter is about to begin, and it will have its climaxes and resolutions just like the chapter that came before it, but it’s all part of the WHOLE story, and believe me, you don’t want to miss it!

  9. jennifer
    September 24, 2009 | 6:59 pm

    Do you ever read jo(e)’s blog? She has teenagers & enjoys them tremendously. She gives me hope!

  10. Alison
    September 24, 2009 | 7:12 pm

    I think you (and she) will be fine.

  11. Happy Geek
    September 24, 2009 | 7:22 pm

    My mom has often said that our teen years, (all three of us) were her favorite.
    She usually wants to throw something at people who are all doom and gloom and would be cheering you on into the next chapter, telling you that the best is yet to come.

  12. kyslp
    September 24, 2009 | 7:30 pm

    Beautiful! Sounds like you have a great girl there. I’m sure she will be a blessing to you throughout your life.

    Oh, how I wish at least one of mine loved to read like I do. I keep searching for that book that will change them.

  13. heidiannie
    September 24, 2009 | 7:53 pm

    My sons are both readers- Hooray! And they are older (23+31) and I’ve loved every chapter so far. So- say pooh to those who are upsetting your psyche and rattling your chains- the girl is yours and your husband’s to watch over and care for and you are up to the job!
    Just wait, Beck- it only gets BETTER!

  14. Anne
    September 24, 2009 | 8:08 pm

    I was an oldest child who loved to read. i think the worst things I did as a teen were:
    -leave my room a mess
    -draw when I was supposed to do math
    -wear a frayed jean jacket
    (I guess teen girls can be pretty emotional too.)

  15. Carrie
    September 24, 2009 | 9:03 pm

    I don’t know if you read Scribbit, but she wrote a BEAUTIFUL post last week about this phenomenon of parenting teenagers, and how it’s not really as bad as people make it out to be. It was really wonderful.

  16. tracey
    September 24, 2009 | 9:46 pm

    I sure as hell hope so. For all of our sakes…

  17. Jamie
    September 25, 2009 | 12:07 am

    They’re wrong. She will be fine.

    The hardest thing for me, upon hitting the difficult age, was that my mom started treating me with hostility. She expected me to be difficult, and stopped treating anything I said as though there was any possible validity to it. Being a teenager is hard, but your daughter will be blessed and do fine if you continue to support her and uphold your relationship with her no matter what weird curveballs may get tossed in there. She will surprise you at times, but maintain that relationship, and you’ll come through fine and so will she.

  18. gretchen from lifenut
    September 25, 2009 | 8:08 am

    I keep hearing the same things. My oldest has her moments, especially as the hormones seem to be kicking in, but really, she is a joy.

    I started writing out a giant list of things she loves and still appreciates, with no signs any of those things will be kicked to the curb in favor of Gossip Girl. But I stopped.

    She still sings as she dries dishes.

  19. patois
    September 25, 2009 | 9:49 am

    Some people get off on warning us about every phase. I’m happy with these “middle years” as my aunt recently referred to them. I really believe what we do in the early and middle years will pay off in the teens. I’m not fearful. Bring it on.

  20. Jodie
    September 25, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    I can totally relate to that first paragraph, and people’s talking about the teen years is terrifying and annoying. Granted, my oldest is only 6, so I have a ways to go, but I love your conclusion… and I hope it is just so.

  21. Painted Maypole
    September 25, 2009 | 3:54 pm

    i worry about the teenage years, too, but there are some moms and daughters I know who are practically best friends (but with the appropriate parental boundaries) and I think that there is hope. Being a good parent and a good kid pair doesn’t guarantee it, but I’m sure it goes a long way to helping it to happen.

  22. Karen Edmisten
    September 27, 2009 | 3:37 pm

    I love my teenagers. It doesn’t have to be awful and I am completely with you on wishing people would just cut it out ….

  23. edj
    September 27, 2009 | 6:13 pm

    Oh I think you’ll LOVE the next chapter. I think you’ll be even closer, and you’ll have so much more to talk about.
    And, I’ve said it before, but our daughters would be such good friends IRL. They are so much alike.

  24. Mary Joan Koch
    September 27, 2009 | 6:19 pm

    Lovely post. As my four girls became teenagers, I found reading the books they were reading was one of the best ways of communicating. Leaving books on the radiator next to the toilet worked if I wanted to recommend books.

  25. Kyla
    September 28, 2009 | 8:14 am

    That is lovely…and I hope your story turns out just like that!

  26. Alyssa Goodnight
    September 28, 2009 | 3:41 pm

    I have no doubt that the story will turn out beautifully. And I love that she carries a book in her backpack–a niece of mine does the same–genius!

  27. Sunday Sunshine 10.04.09 « Minnesota Mom
    October 4, 2009 | 6:56 am

    […] @ 4:52 am Gack!  September is a goner!  But it produced some lovely things, including this post by Beck.  She is, I think, and at risk of offending others whom I like so much, my favorite mommy […]

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