As a teenager, I was never particularly interested in having children. I just didn’t have that maternal instinct. While many of my high school chums talked about becoming wives and mothers, I was more inclined to discuss going to college and becoming a psychologist. Throughout my twenties, I continued to focus on my career track, with the result that husbands and babies were put on the back burner. Then when I reached my early thirties and my biological clock began to tick, I was diagnosed with the gynecological problems that have since prevented me from having children. And now that I’m in my mid-fifties, childbirth is definitely not an option.
So I enjoy living motherhood (and grandmotherhood) vicariously through the experiences which my friends post on their Facebook walls.
One such friend often makes me smile as she shares the adventures of living life as the single mother of a precocious not-quite-four year old daughter. Her little girl is cute as a button, smart as a whip, fearless as a lion, and has a personality larger than life itself. In another words…she’s just like her mother.
Today my friend posted about her book-reading sessions with her daughter. Apparently the Little Princess enjoys the writings of Dr. Seuss. Well…who doesn’t? I dare say that the majority of us were raised on his writings, and cut our literacy teeth on such books as The Cat In the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and the subject of this post…Green Eggs and Ham.
It seems our pint-sized royalty has gotten a certain segment of this book down to pat:
I love (daughter’s) rendition of Green Eggs and Ham so much. We hadn’t read that book in ages, but she gets the “not in a house, not with a mouse, not in a boat, not with a goat, etc” exactly right. When I use that part to explain something I’m not going to do in real life, instead of getting cranky, she laughs her head off. Probably won’t last, but I will take it.
I’m not a mother, but I think I know enough about child psychology to be able to say that no, it probably won’t last…and yes, you should take it for the time being.
I was raised as a deaf child in an all-hearing family. My deafness wasn’t discovered until I was already in kindergarten – probably due to my above-average intelligence, and the fact that while I do have a severe-to-profound hearing loss, I had enough residual hearing in the lower frequencies that I was able to get by. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t some concerns about my language and speech development; in fact, I was originally labeled as being mentally retarded…a diagnosis that thankfully my parents refused to accept.
Once my hearing loss was confirmed by audiologists, my mother took it upon herself to be sure that I did develop the speech and language skills that I was going to need. She enrolled me in a children’s book club where every month I would get a new book in the mail. I quickly learned to look forward to those little cardboard boxes with my name printed on the label. Many of these books became childhood classics – the Little Black, A Pony series by Walter Farley; Curious George and Babar the Elephant; and of course, the works of Dr. Seuss.
My mother would sit me down in a chair in the large kitchen of my childhood home, and I would read out loud to her while she cooked, washed dishes, and did all the tasks that a housewife did back in the sixties. In this way, Mom could help me with new words I didn’t know, and correct my pronunciation. In that kitchen, I developed my love affair with books. I learned to read, I learned language, I learned the power and magic that words possess.
When I became older, Mom returned to work to use the pathology degree she had earned before I was born, eventually rising up to become head of the laboratory at the hospital where she worked. She was no longer around to listen to me read aloud those stories, but that was okay…by then I was reading to myself, and our kitchen gatherings were replaced by visits to our local library. Over the years we continued to share our love for books, and sometimes made literary recommendations to each other. I discovered that I had apparently inherited my mother’s gene for enjoying a well-written mystery.
In early 2010, I returned home to care for my terminally ill mother, who was in the final stages of cancer and losing her mind to dementia. Yet even as she descended further and further into the darkness of disease and the madness of mayhem, Mom could still remember listening to me read as a child. She would frequently repeat the story of how I would drive her crazy while following her around the house, reciting the words from one of my favorite books:
I am Sam. Sam I am. I like to eat green eggs and ham.
Mom passed away in May of 2010. Wherever she is now, I’d like to think they serve green eggs and ham for breakfast.
Thank you for sharing your daughter with me, my friend. Thank you for reading those books to her. Cherish these moments when the two of you can be swept away by the magic.
I promise you…your daughter will remember such moments.