Sunday Scribblings: Bed-time
Miffy would be there. And a bear called … what was his name? We used to joke that we’d almost called G… Wilberforce… that was the name. A bear called Wilberforce. Talking teddies and donkeys that wanted to do the right thing, but managed to get it wrong. We would bring singing ducks and people who went flying on the string of a balloon to bed each night. I would sit in with G and he would pick out the book, and I would read. It lasted only a few years, and the pang the night he grabbed his book and announced that he could now read for himself felt almost like the pang (accompanied by a certain relief also), the evening I realised he actually could sleep without nursing at my breast, that he didn’t need me in the way he had from birth. I’d been reading to him, singing and telling him stories from the day he was born. Bed-time involved those stories that came from books, and stories of himself, of us. His favourite story was the one of the Monday night and early Tuesday morning during which he made his way into this world. And then what happened? And when the nurse told Daddy to go home, he didn’t go, did he? (No, he didn’t… and a good thing too, because even though all the nurses thought you would take a long time coming, they didn’t know who we were dealing with … a little boy who would always be in a hurry, isn’t that right?) And next morning, who came? Auntie Annie, with a stuffed dog, saying every boy should have a dog, and Aideen the nurse, with your first book – a book of nursery rhymes, and we would sing some of the rhymes from that first book, and we would count One to Ten and down again from the book that had come from his cousin’s first library, and read bits from Enid Blyton, and stories from Childcraft, and it was there, in the little bed in that little blue room that my son’s love of books came into being. His voracious appetite for books hasn’t been stunted by even his fascination with Gameboy, Nintendo and Internet; not by his social life, not by girls, not by college. Now it’s John Grisham and Michael Connelly. Now it’s mystery and thriller, but I don’t mind what it is – so long as my son is happy and comfortable with a book in his hands, and realises the joy there is to be had from the words and the worlds to be found between the covers of a book, so long as he is likely to be a parent who, when his own children ask for a story, will find it the most natural thing in the world, to reach for a book, and to become lost in that world all over again.
More Sunday Scribblings on the topic of Bed-Time will be found HERE