You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.
Who read to me: Mother, great-grandmother, grandmothers, godmother, great aunt and uncle, don’t remember The Pater reading, but babysitters, mothers of friends, teachers, of course, my own sisters and Au Pairs. I was extremely critical of the Au Pair reading technique—because how could an Au Pair ever take the place of a mother’s reading, especially when you might be lucky to get any Au Pair reading at all when the mother was off with The Pater touring the Loire Valley and drinking good wine and eating cow brains and practicing her high school French while you and your sisters were left with–that particular Au Pair era–the 18 year old Swedish live-in who hated books but loved bikers, a pack of bikers, in fact, that she invited back to your hushed-suburban home for a party that raged so alarmingly the neighbors almost called the police and you didn’t sleep, jealous of your older sister who was allowed to walk among the melee you peeked at through the banisters at the top of the stairs until the crowd and its music–Rod Stewart, mostly, but also Bob Dylan in the phase when Britain hated him–migrated upstairs and doors banged and bikers guffawed like Santa Claus and you were kind of freaked, but intrigued and the next thing you knew you and your sisters were waving goodbye to the Swedish Au Pair, who vaguely resembled Cinderella-pre-prince, as she ducked into the taxi your parents summoned that fateful day in the quaint neighborhood, zooming that teenager and her limited read-aloud talents and her taste for giants in leather away from you forever…making way, sadly–O Parents! What the he** were you thinking!–for the next Au Pair, an early-twenties-something terrified Parisian who wore a wooden crucifix and saw ghosts…Saw. Heard. Despised us. Despised children in general. Despised children’s books…Sigh…
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My mom read to me even when I was a baby and her friends thought she was crazy because I couldn’t “understand.”
That said, WOW. What a story! When you publish one of your books, this should totally go on the jacket below the “About the Author” paragraph. Unless that book is for little children. Or maybe even then. 🙂
Yep. Well, remebered, PB. Crazy French Francoise. SHeesh.
My mother or father didn’t read to me when I was young. Nothing against them but they barely read themselves. My mom would read the occasional flyer or pamphlet and dad would read the newspaper. I fell in love with reading in elementary school. First it was reading about space and the future then I found the Hardy Boys. My wife and I both read to our children and now, grandchildren. I think one who has parents read to them is lucky and perhaps they’re given a head start because of it. I know some of my best memories are of reading and telling stories to my grandson.
Doug–so wonderful and heartening that kids can fall in love with reading in school, as you did, that we don’t HAVE to have parents or relatives or babysitters or, when the mood strikes some, Au Pairs read to us before we can read–that we can find a joy in reading books anyway, once we’re taught how to read. I was such a bookworm as a girl. Fond memories! My great uncle Henry used to tell us stories about Diela, who traveled to other universes. I’ll never forget those tales. And my husband storytells to our son each night, using our son as a main character. Sometimes, after a story, I’ll hear my son say: “That was a really good one, dad!” Just kills me. Your grandson is a lucky guy!