Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30, 2010

Dear Oliver,
I decided long ago (long before you were born) that you could be whatever you wanted to be, so long as it makes you happy (and you stay healthy). Would I love you to be a doctor or a writer or Michelin starred chef? Of course I would. But if you become a secretary or an accountant or a cruise director, that will be fine too. Whatever floats your boat. Right now you're obsessed with the pipe on the front porch that drains our kitchen sink - at least I think that's what it does - and the mailman caught you standing at it, smiling, one afternoon. "Maybe he'll be a plumber", he said. And although I have to admit, it never occurred to me that plumbing would be your calling in life, I am 100% okee dokee if it is. Plumb away, my dear. (And while you're at it, tell me, does that pipe drain our kitchen sink?)

But there is one wish I have for you (aside from being a democrat - that one's a given): I want you to read. I want you to pour over books, losing track of time as you turn pages, sneaking flashlights into bed so you can finish one more chapter after I say lights out. I want you to insist on keeping the cereal box on the table while you eat, just so you can read the ingredient list *again*, not because it's interesting but because your eyes need to keep moving. I want you to love the smell of libraries, the sound of binding being cracked for the first time, the feel of pages rippling after getting accidentally dipped in the bath. I want you, from a very young age, to appreciate what books can give you and where they can take you. I want you to read.

I never read to you in utero. Your dad and I talked to you plenty (and I had an internal dialogue that I believe we shared) and I think that was enough. But once you were here we started turning pages immediately. I read the complete "Frog and Toad" collection while you nursed and daddy jumped right in with the big guns, picking up "Harry Potter". We'd read through picture books while you cried your sad, colicky cries and I learned quickly that the rhythm of some books calmed you for a moment. I memorized "Sheep in a Jeep" and "Toes, Ears and Nose" early on and when you would melt down in the car or the grocery store, reciting one of them at the top of my lungs usually got your attention long enough to stop and catch your breath. And for me to catch mine.

This house is buried under your books these days. Classics ("Beatrix Potter" cozies up alongside "The Giving Tree"), new-fangled fun (the Matthew Van Fleet books have been hot glued back together more times than I can count), endless board books (so many picked up at Target's 1 Spot - likely written by someone whose first language isn't English) and some of my childhood favorites ("Amelia Bedelia", "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs", there are so many). We read them together before naps and bedtime and when you're in need of some quiet time on mommy's lap. Sometimes you turn pages patiently, sometimes I don't get a chance to read the words as you speed by.

One day last week I left you playing in the living room while I got ready, always keeping my mommy ear tuned for unusual and dangerous sounds. After a few minutes I heard the scariest sound of all - complete silence. I quickly dropped my mascara and rushed to see you in whatever disaster you'd created. I stopped dead in my tracks when I found you, sitting quietly in the middle of a pile of books, studying the pages before you delicately turned them. Surrounded by toys and cats and all kinds of trouble, you chose to read. And you did it twice that day alone.

So whatever you become, whoever you decide to love, whichever life you decide to live, you have made me proud and made me happy. At the tender age of almost-13-months you've made my wish for you come true. Even if you don't love books* as you grow, you love them now. Thank you.


*I accidentally typed "boobs" instead of "books". I suppose the same can be said for them, though. Maybe you won't always love them either or maybe you will. But one thing's for certain - you definitely love them now!


  1. Love the boob comment. I'm with you. I want Cooper to want to read as much as I do. Enjoy the time together doing it.

  2. yay! So, I'm not too quick with the metaphors and gasped out loud thinking you and Tal had really sold your house and moved without telling anyone!
    p.s. you know how I feel about reading--nothing would make me happier (or prouder) than to raise a reader (=

  3. I love it! I had a proud moment last weekend in the store when Reagan got to pick a toy and chose a book.