Children hear their parents cracking a book in the same way cats hear the opening of a food container; the reaction is immediate. They drop what they are doing and run from all directions – sometimes as far as two floors away – to inspect the situation.
Children cannot abide their parents reading. This is seen as a sign that you need more attention…or more details about their boogers…or more laying on top of. Clearly the act of opening a book – a book with no pictures of all things! – is a desperate cry for help which much be addressed immediately and with all due physical contact.
My sister put a book in my Easter basket. I was at first thrilled followed immediately by anxiousness. “Do you think I can? I mean…the children…they won’t like it.” We were assembling Easter baskets in secret at night. I dared not even crack the cover for fear they would awaken and rush me.
Two weeks later (last weekend) after spending Saturday and Sunday draped in my children, I crawled out from underneath them on Sunday night and sought refuge…in my book. The children had played hard that afternoon and were zoned in to an episode of a favorite cartoon. Surely they would never know if I just read the first few pages…
The dog was the first to betray me. He had been sleeping, but there he was at my elbow the second I cracked the spine, poking his wet nose at the pages. “Go away!” Rookie move.
If someone says ‘Go away’, then clearly there is something worthy of protection, and that something might be a thing that the children want, or – even better – it might be food.
The boy came in first. He determined immediately that I did not have food and satisfied himself with jumping on the couch…loudly.
The girl came next. She wanted to know what I was reading, could I read her books instead, how about a game, can I just lay here on top of you for a while until you want to play a game with me?
Right as I was about to either explode or relent, your father – blessed, handsome, intelligent man that he is – called out, “I guess I’ll just watch all your favorite shows without you!” The room emptied. Even the dog went with the majority.
I read. I read for 30 minutes. With only a few minor interruptions to apply a bandaid and open a yogurt cup. It was lovely.
I am SO doing that again