3.10.2011

Turning Pages

She runs to the bookshelf and chooses – the cover is immediately familiar and I smile. She loves this book. I love this book. I love reading her the words as she sits in my lap, her finger running over the text, the images; reading along – we both know this one off by heart.

Come little monkey, come, come, come. It’s time I took you home to –

Mum! My little monkey exclaims, as I cuddle her close and tight.

I kiss her goodnight and give her a snuggle; pull up the covers and whisper sweet secrets in her ear. In her one-piece pajamas, the green fuzzy ones with the little owl on it, she still looks like a baby. But as I put the book back on the shelf, thick, cardboard pages fraying at the corners; spine cracked and broken from all the years that we have enjoyed it together, I know that this is not really the case anymore. The footy pajamas will be outgrown by next season, and the board books will be outgrown as well.

Mischa groans and rolls her eyes when her sister picks a ‘baby book’ as her bedtime story choice, my five-year-old having moved on to the pleasures of more intricate paperbacks, poetry collections and chapter books. I enjoyed the transition when we went through it the first time because of the excitement of my oldest moving on to different things, and because of the excitement of seeing my youngest being able to claim as her own the books whose domain was previously shared with her older sister.

I try to keep my sentimentality in check as I watch my children grow out, grow up. But the thought of putting books that have been synonymous with my children’s infancy back on the shelf for the last time is conjuring up yet another emotion I never knew existed. It’s not nostalgia or the pleasure/panic that hits me with every milestone attained – it’s a true sadness this time. My favorite books, the ones we have shared, are written with a cadence, a sweetness that so rhythmically echoes the traditions and routines of babyhood; that have introduced to my babies the magic of story-time giggles and bedtime snuggles.

And then, I realize, just as simply as that, that it is not really the end of the words, the pictures, the sing-song rhymes that this melancholy resides over; it’s that once again the gentle tide of passing time is taking my babies further into the sea of childhood, where board books give way to chapter books and one-piece pajamas are handed down to new babies, not mine.

And I am left, watching from the shore, blowing my kisses into the breeze.

***

13 comments:

  1. Aw Karen, I know how this feels. When Alice put all of her board books and picture books in Henry's room I actually cried.

    But let me tell you something too - it can be great on this side of things. It's not over - it's just another stage. You still have Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables and Judy Blume and Percy Jackson and oh so much more to look forward to. We're in that magical phase now with Alice and it is still truly beautiful.

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  2. Thanks for that, Kate - I know that what comes next is always as sweet as what came before, but it doesn't always feel that way at the time :)

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  3. I completely understand how you feel. My babies are no longer babies anymore either. And even though no one requests that I read "Good Night Moon", I may never be able to donate that book.

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  4. Oh, I'm sure I'll keep a few squirreled away, hoping that one day I can give them back to my babies to read to theirs.

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  5. this was just such a sweet post. i remember this transition when my youngest transitioned to older books and away from board books.

    i really loved this.

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  6. awww
    but like Kate said look at what is coming. We just got a set of illustrated Alice in Wonderland and I am smitten.

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  7. And then comes Shel. We love ourselves some Shel Silverstein over here, especially when there are naked bums in the illustrations. We also love illustrated naked bums.

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  8. "...and one-piece pajamas are handed down to new babies, not mine."

    oooh ... I felt that one.

    Great writing. Great.

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  9. @nancy @christie - thank you :)
    @moplans @mombshell - we have delved into both of those and are loving them - I am excited at the thought of sharing some of my later favourites with my girls.

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  10. Auntie JennoMarch 11, 2011

    Your almost-13-year-old niece still has a whole shelf of 'kid' books, with a few board books we never could get rid of. Even in this most recent move they followed us. 'Guess how much I love you', 'Good night moon', 'Who said moo?', are still enjoyed every now and then. But the best is when she read 'Story of the root children' out loud to little cousins. It never ends.

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  11. I know this tug so well, of them drifting further away and outward and dragging my heart behind them. oof. That one got me where I live, lovely as it is.

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  12. I am not ready to give up the "baby books"! Not ready, I say! Don't make me!

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  13. What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!

    Kids Clothes

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