Thursday, August 30, 2012

My little bookworms

Today I wrapped up a longtime babysitting gig, at least as a regular thing. (They're moving; I'm going full-time at the bookstore.) When I first inherited the family from a Simmons classmate, S was three and a half.  She was a Frog and Toad fan with a hard-working imagination, fond of making up stories. One of my first memories of her involves carefully crossing "the deep... old... cold river," a puddle whose name I suspect was inspired by We're Going on a Bear Hunt.

A was eight months old. We read a lot of Sandra Boynton and Eric Carle board books, and she did a lot of playing with the pages and not much letting me finish them. In those early months, she started crawling unprompted into the rocking chair we used for reading, books in hand, and while she was learning to talk, we developed a routine of pointing out anything in the illustrations that she could name. "Moooooon" was a favorite.

Three years and a zillion games of "I'm thinking of a character" later, S is still reading Frog and Toad. But now she's the one reading it aloud. She still makes up stories, but now when there's writing to be done, she does much of it herself. She takes the big parts in staged readings of Elephant and Piggie books and does a mean analysis of the themes in Yertle the Turtle. In short, S is going to knock the socks off of first grade.

A, too, is complexly into stories. Like S around her age (almost 4), she's discovered that books can deliver a safe thrill, so she's been on the lookout for "scary" books. We spent much of the past two mornings in the fairy tale section of the library, reading and rereading version after version of Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Once she was familiar with the latter. she started skipping ahead: "I want to get to the witch part." It took convincing to get her to spend any of our four hours together at the playground while there were books to read.

And K, who was born this June? He's already got S reading to him.


  1. You'll miss them - and they will miss you!

  2. As the Simmons classmate who passed them over to you, I have to say I cried reading this! I love S and A so very much.

    Shoshana, you were absolutely the right person to have that job, and you were absolutely amazing with them.

    And given the number of times I've read/sung I'm Going on a Bear Hunt to S, I'm pretty sure that's where she got the puddle from!

    One of my favorite S memories is the time I lost my mobile phone while we were sledding (I think that was the first day you met them?) and my brave little girl found it all by herself!

    My favourite A memory is a time when she just would NOT stop crying. We're talking an hour of tears here. I was beside myself. Until I started walking around with her and doing everything from reciting Wordsworth poems to singing Abba songs. (She was more of a Keats fan, and LOVED the Beatles.)

    Thank you for taking such good care of them!

  3. @JO - I know I will!

    @Daily Photo, thanks for the kind words. I had a feeling you had something to do with S's bibliophilia when I came in. You gave them their copy of Chrysanthemum, right? It came back into frequent rotation around the time A turned 3. She was fascinated by the page where Chrysanthemum dreams that she's a flower and Victoria picks her - she would stare and stare at it. (She did the same thing with No, David! when she was younger - I think she really uses books to work out conflicts in her head.)

    Yes, I remember that sledding trip, and I think S kind of does, too; I mentioned it to her on at least one more recent sledding trip. She still has an odd knack for finding missing objects - she figured out after a long family search, for instance, that A had hidden her blankies in the urn and forgotten about them.

    B was telling me about that hour of A tears recently when I was walking with K, who's a remarkably quiet fusser (at least from what I've seen). I don't know if I would've thought of Abba or Wordsworth - it would've been "The night Max wore his wolf suit..." in soothing tones.

    It's fun making connections between your time with them and mine - from my perspective, it feels like reading a prequel. Thanks for getting them off to such a good start!

  4. Reading both your comments brings tears of gratitude to my eyes for both of you, Shoshanna and Jenna! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patience, your humor and friendship. S and A will really miss you! B.