OBSERVATIONS · picture books

Sometimes kids have other ideas…

I wanted to read Isabelle a few books before taking her upstairs tonight.  After all, I had barely seen her today since I traveled a little over an hour away to consult with a group of teachers.  Therefore, by the time I got home, I had to finish preparing dinner.  Then I got Isabelle ready for bed.  Surely there would be time to snuggle-up and read some books together.

But Isabelle had other ideas.  She grabbed her Fisher-Price Corn Popper, which my mom bought her a couple of days ago, and decided to push it around the living room instead of climbing next to me on the couch.  POP! POP! POP! POP! POP! POP! (Do you get the sense that it was louder than I would’ve liked?)

“Come next Mama.  Let’s read.”

“No,” she replied.

“C’mon.  Don’t you want me to read you a story? I asked.

“No,” she shook her head, curls bouncing everywhere as she continued to push the corn popper across the rug.

“I have your favorite book,” I said showing her Faces of the Moon by Bob Crelin and illustrated by Leslie Evans.  (Truth be told, I don’t know that it’s her favorite, but she LOVES the moon.  Hence, when I found it in our basement a couple of weeks ago, I brought it upstairs for her.)

“No,” she said.

“I’ve been out all day.  I haven’t read you one book. I just want to read to you.”

“Please,” I begged.

She considered. Then, she climbed up on to the couch. But moments after she got there and I began reading she tried to shut the book on me.

“C’mon, Isabelle. I’m trying to read to you,” I pleaded.

“No!” (Well, she knows the meaning of no, now, doesn’t she?)

She shook her head and left the couch, but only after she tried to shut the book one more time.

I paused and watched her pick up other toys in her play room and play with them — loudly.

“Well, I’m going to read to you,” I said stubbornly.

I picked up Faces of the Moon and opened to the first page… again.  She continued playing as I let my mouth dance over the poetic verse that describes the moon so clearly.  She continued to play and I continued to read. After about eight pages she stopped playing and walked over the the couch.  A couple of pages later she climbed up on the couch next to me. She didn’t look at the pictures, but she did sit down beside me.  And then, she grabbed another book — one of her board books — and started turning the pages of that book silently.

She may not have appreciated Faces of the Moon in the way I wanted her to this evening, but she heard language read aloud.  And the fact that she came back to sit next to me was a small success, right?

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6 thoughts on “Sometimes kids have other ideas…

  1. I think sometimes the little ones listen to more than we think, even though it looks like they aren’t paying attention. Just like some of my older students need to doodle while I talk. They just need to keep doing something. And, yes, it’s a small victory that she came and sat next to you.

  2. Oh Stacey, this could so easily have ended in Isabelle hearing a voice filled with frustration, or even worse you could have given up and left her to play without your voice at all. I love that you chose instead to beckon her into the story by finding your own peace and enjoyment inside the pages of the book. You gave her room to be herself while modeling a love for the words you truly value. Victory indeed.

  3. A big success. I love that she was reading along side you. That has been something that I really enjoy with my girls – reading together and reading alongside each other.

    I smiled about the POP, POP… because I remembered that toy from my childhood. It is always fun to see the toys that last from our childhoods to our children’s.

  4. Ah Stacey, you have uncovered the “Holy Grail” of parenting: They are all becoming their own people. She was listening to you and hearing not only the words from the story but the love in your heart as you were reading. She’ll remember not the words but the patience you exhibited. She might have been “testing you” or “making you pay” for being away during the day; however, most likely, she was just “not in the mood to snuggle” but was in the mood to play! I often thought of Kahil Gibran’s words (paraphrased here ) when my children were not of the same mind as me: “They are sons and daughters of the universe finding their way. Even now, those adult kids don’t always have the same mindset about things as I do. I try to meet them where they are at the moment (like you did with Isabella) and in the end, we have some memorable moments!

  5. I agree with Christy that you did an excellent job of not allowing the evening to turn unpleasant! I’m sure that Isabelle did listen to some of what you said, and more importantly, she saw and heard you obviously ENJOYING “letting your mouth dance over the poetic words” in your book. She saw a model of someone who loves reading… maybe that’s even why she picked up her own book! 🙂

  6. Oh, you won. A book and words shared – maybe not the way you envisioned. It’s hard when our little ones are making choices and decisions, but we want them to be independent, right? (Ugh, hard to answer yes!) But, we always have to remember, deep down, those little ones will always need us and love us, right Mama? I say, read on!

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