The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Halfway Down

I've always loved the written word, and there are more than a few stories and poems I enjoyed as a child that I can still recite from heart. Among my favorites are many of the verses in When We Were Very Young, a collection of poetry by Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne. My father loved this book and passed his love down to me as we read it together again and again when I was young. I even calligraphed our favorite poem, Halfway Down, on poster board for my father's birthday one year during a brief period when I was interested in visual arts (and didn't yet realize that leftys should never work with slow drying ink). When Julia was born, my Dad brought me my old copy of the book to share with her when the time was right. I did actually read it to her a few times in the very early months of her life when I could have been reciting the Greek alphabet over and over for all she cared or understood. But the book was old and falling apart, so when she really became interested in books, I put it out of reach. And then, of course, I promptly forgot about it.

Julia's been interested in poetry lately, and I suddenly remembered the book last night and decided to pull it out. The pages smell like old paper and the binding is literally coming apart, but I think that just added to the charm when I explained to her that this was a special book that her Grandpa used to read to me. I was a little nervous that it all might still be too much for a 3 year old, but she was fascinated with the idea of reading something her grandfather and I both love, so we gave it a whirl. I started, of course, with Halfway Down.

I turned to the right page (easily identifiable because of the ink marks that remain from my calligraphy attempts) and immediately realized that I didn't need the printed words on the page to know what to say next. I lost myself in the memory a bit as I recited the poem and then turned to look at Julia when I'd finished, half afraid to see her reaction in case she hadn't liked it. I wanted so badly for her to share the love my father and I had shared for this book and I was worried that I'd be disappointed if she didn't have much of a reaction.

I shouldn't have worried. The look of pure delight on her face was unmistakable. She'd clearly "gotten" it and her joy was beautiful to see. She told Paul all about the poem this morning and has asked to read it again several times already today, each time handing me the book in an almost reverent way. It's clear we're going to be reading a lot of Milne in the coming weeks.

It's been a really dissatisfactory couple of weeks around here. The winter weather just will not end, Evan's been needy, Julia's been whiny and mouthy and I've just barely been holding it all together enough to get through the days. For the first time in the three years I've been at home, I've been questioning what the heck I'm doing here as each day finds me more and more unhappy and discontented and less and less sure what to do about it or how to snap out of this rut. And then last night, my daughter and I bonded over the poetry of my youth. It didn't make things all better by a long shot, but it sure was a good start.


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