Frances and her books.

The main intention of this blog was and is to create a space for me to have a consistent writing practice. Although the past year has seen its ups and downs in terms of writing for me, I’ll admit I’m pleased with the overall effort given my prior attempts at journaling.

A secondary purpose of the blog is a means to record moments as memories, to be read over and over again as the months and years speed on by.

I remember reading the following quote in graduate school years ago by the Cuban American author Anaïs Nin, and I always, always come back to it when someone asks me why I write.

It goes like this:

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospect.”

“Yes!” I thought when I read it. This is why I write. 

Tonight’s memory will be one I share with Frances as she gets older and can appreciate my mockery.
                 ————

When she was a baby, I couldn’t get Frances to sit still and listen to a book. Not for anything. Unlike her older sister, Nora, who was practically reading right out of the womb, Frances crawled immediately away once settled in my lap in front of a book, or else delighted in swatting away the pages and covers with all her infant might.

Although I was concerned she’d grow up to be a simpleton, I continued the practice of diligently reading aloud to Nora in the hopes that Frances might soak up some of it through her periphery. 

After she turned a year old, I had a little success engaging Frances with books that had texture and other sensory materials. Lift-the-flap books like Where’s Spot? were a big hit. Still, I found myself just accepting Frances was going to be a jock or a comedian instead of a Harvard grad when she hightailed it outta my lap anytime an ordinary board book or picture book came her way. (I jest you know—there’s nothing wrong with being a jock. Both Liam and I were three-sport athletes and humor is one of my more redeeming qualities. I only label and judge my children to get a laugh. Besides, just today my Harvard grad, Nora, told me she wanted to be a recycling man—yes, man—when she grows up, so she can ride on the side of the truck. I will love them however and whatever my children turn out to be.)

Anyway, back to Frances. Around eighteen months, or maybe a little thereafter, she finally, FINALLY, started to show an interest in listening to stories read aloud. She began to sit still and delight in looking at pictures and hearing the written word.

Several months later, a little before she turned two, Frances’s vocabulary just exploded. Again, prior to this happening, I was concerned that my girl of few words might have to rely on looks alone, not brains, in order to get ahead in this world. (KIDDING!)

I needn’t have worried. These days, the girl has more words than she knows what to do with. And watch out, because when she gets talking about something she’s excited about, there’s no stopping her.

Back then, though, I suddenly found myself pleasantly surprised when  Frances—not Nora—was finishing sentences aloud when I intentionally left a word or two hanging off the end. Unbeknownst to me, she HAD been soaking things up through osmosis! She had memorized parts of the books we’d been reading. It was all very exciting for me. Maybe, just maybe, she’d be Harvard-bound after all! (BTW, I’m not even a big fan of Harvard, although it’s campus is very beautiful.)

These days Frances is never far from a book. She likes to ask me or her dad to read her a book, and then—once we finish—she’ll ask for another story, but will insist on taking back the first book so she can hold it and flip through the pages as she listens to the second story. She alternates between flipping and looking at one book and listening to the other. It’s very funny. Almost OCD in the way she does it EVERY time we sit down to read.

Frances is also fond of taking books to bed with her so she can look at their pages before she falls asleep. I’ve found many-a-book under the covers where she sleeps when making the bed in the morning.

Her latest thing is to walk around the house with a chapter book, and then sit somewhere and pretend to read. Today I noticed her carrying both Trumpet of the Swan and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Only, she was pretend reading something about a mama and a baby bear and how they had to clean up the house before dinnertime.

I’ve so enjoyed watching Frances’s love affair with books blossom the way it has. I have high hopes now for Rowan, child number three, who just turned one, and who might’ve just been introduced to a book by his mother a couple of weeks ago. 

Come on! Cut me some slack. Child number three, I said. Not to worry. If he’s anything like Frances, he’ll be toting around James Joyce novels before too long and babbling on about ocean characters who meet monsters at a picnic he “reads” in their pages.

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2 thoughts on “Frances and her books.

  1. Anne

    Love it!!!
    And…I’m a strong believer in peer-based learning & discovery. The countless hours of phonics and books, vocabulary building, matching and puzzles, the focused instruction and planned learning activities that were given to child number one were cut in half, at best, for child number two. Yet, somehow, child number 2 is reading above grade level (and his brother’s level at that age… not comparing-or at least not to be critical), and his desire to learn in the school environment far surpasses the older one’s ( just an observation). Sometimes I wonder if I pushed the desire to learn in a structured environment rt out the window for the first one by overdoing it? I’m sticking with the osmosis, peer learning and discovery theories for child number three. It seems to work better & I’m not sure we really have a choice! Basic needs being met seems to be a good goal these days. Does three get easier?

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    1. powerskirstin Post author

      Ah! Three are a literal handful! I am always holding the baby these days and Frances is never far away. It’s a funny thing–I’m both wanting to run from the neediness, and loving it up depending on the moment. I imagine when Rowan starts being more mobile and independent life will get easier. You’ve got the THREE boys though, so there’s no telling. 😜 I hear you on the basic needs. I’m seriously going to a laundromat this weekend, even though it will cost more money, because I can’t bear to be a slave to the basement this weekend with all the washing that’s gone undone in the past two weeks, not to mention what we soiled with sickness. I can’t keep up. Soon, when the weather turns, we can spend our days outside and all will be better!

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