This morning, I sat and listened to my youngest daughter (who’s “almost” 7) read to me from a chapter book she brought home from school. I couldn’t tell you the storyline. It doesn’t matter. I was too busy soaking in the moment, relishing the fact that SHE was now reading to me in such a grown up way. I’m amazed by how far she’s come since pointing to the pictures in the books we used to read together.
The classics—“Goodnight Moon”, “Frog in the Kitchen Sink,” “Brown Bear Brown Bear”
Later I was in our basement, noticing a shelf that still holds those “younger year” books that have stood the test of time through three daughters. Each of them heard the stories, usually as we rocked together, or laid together before nap or bedtime. They had their favorites. I had mine. I read some more than I ever cared to. Others, I would pay money for the opportunity to read to them again. The memories I have attached to those books are deeper than most any other keepsake I have tucked away. They are “moments” we shared. I remember how I read certain lines, portrayed certain characters, and “ahem,” maybe even tried to skip over pages to make it to the end of some!
Let’s be honest. I feel like I can speak for most parents when I say, there are just some books you can’t bare to read over and over again, and you’re never upset when your child is ready to move on from them.
Unfortunately, for me (or fortunately for my future grandchildren, God willing) there aren’t many books that I can let go of. My husband watched as I pulled the books from the shelf and stacked them into a storage bin. I simply said, “I can’t get rid of them.” He smiled, because I know he understands exactly how I feel. He spent his fair share of time helping that poor little Llama find out if “anyone” was his mama, and discovering all the wonderful sounds that “Mr. Brown” can do. We won’t get into WHO had the better story telling skills. If anyone was ever keeping track, it was just us. Our girls were just happy to be on the receiving end of those stories.
Despite being told over and over the value of reading to our children, we likely don’t recognize as young parents, how story time will affect us. At the time, we’re often just trying to get through the book, and make it to “lights out.” We don’t see ourselves years down the road, standing over a stack of books, wishing we could read them one more time to that same small wonder of a child.
One of my favorite books by author Karen Kingsbury, is called “Let Me Hold You Longer.” I say my favorite, because my girls never requested to have it read to them. I was usually the one adding it to the pile. It’s loaded with powerful statements about a parent’s realization of “passing moments,” and the desperation we often feel towards wanting to “hold on a little longer.”
”I look ahead and dream of days that haven’t come to pass. But as I do, I sometimes miss today’s sweet, precious lasts.” “My life keeps moving faster, stealing precious days that pass. I want to hold you longer–want to recognize your lasts.” “Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.”
No truer words were ever spoken. Their meaning may not have hit home for my girls when I read them years ago. But I’m certain they’ll “get it” one day, when they read the story to their children.
Because of course I’ll have it saved away for them to share!