It’s been an interesting summer so far having my three kids at home full-time.
The dynamic has been very different; my two-year old is showing his personality, making a bid for dominance, leaving my older two quite uncertain how to battle him without too much personal loss (ie. mommy rushing in to his rescue ’cause he’s only two and not five and stop fighting with him like you do with each other!!)
One of the ways I’ve come to make peace is by assigning one of the older ones to read him a book.
It’s been fun because the toddlers interest is expanding from board books to story books. The three of them huddle together and peer into the book, still arguing (of course!) about who gets to hold it or turn the pages, but eventually they settle down and fall into the story.
I naturally gravitate to them from whatever I’m doing (which is invariable preparing some kind of food for their bottomless stomachs–seriously, where do is all go??). I love watching them read, the expression, the body language, the rapture. It’s quite honestly one of my favourite things to do. That, and I love listening to the story itself, especially told through either of my older children, because they tell the story differently, and it reveals so much about them.
My toddler has begun pointing to pages that he likes and saying “I want to go in there.”
I’ve raised three kids and none of them ever said such a thing before. I think it’s wonderful that my toddler has the capacity to express his desire to enter story world.
My answer to him is always this: Close your eyes, and you can be there in your imagination. Occasionally he does close his eyes and I see a vast array of expressions pass over his face.
I love living with kids (well, when I don’t want to kill them) because they are a constant reminder of how much wonder there is around us. We adults have so much to learn from them.
When I write I have that exact sense my toddler expresses of going into the story. Without that I’m not sure I would ever be able to produce something worth reading. Without that I would gain no pleasure from writing. And as I edit myself to death, I needed that reminder to stay in the story in the same way I do writing a draft.
Story is the foundation of life, without it we would be mechanical. It’s what makes us learn and grow and change. It’s what makes experience. And seeing my toddler respond in this way has brought story back to its most fundamental form for me.