Sunday, November 11, 2012

where books can lead

ander and i have had a couple more blueberry moments this week, courtesy of some books we found at the library.

we enjoy our little mama-son dates together while diana participates in other activities.  she had our homeschool book club on monday.  in between wandering in and out of that to see what was going on, ander and i explored the picture book section, where i saw sitting out on top of the shelves the enticing title of an orange in january.  written by dianna aston and charmingly illustrated by julie maren, this book enchanted us both.

this is not just about reading a story, though.  ander wanted to be a child in the story.  he asked me if we could go to the store and look at oranges and pick out "the best one of all," just like in the book.  so we did.

a trip to the grocery store has not always been an exciting, much-anticipated adventure for me, especially as a mother.  i'm more often than not focused on getting the job done, getting in and out as quickly as i can, with a c'mon-let's-keep-it-moving-people kind of attitude.

i've come to realize that my outlook on shopping (grocery and otherwise) has been vastly different when i have only one of my children with me at a time.  i unconsciously choose to slow down, concentrate on what that particular child wants to do on that visit to the store, really look at what he or she sees and hears and smells and is curious about.

one way i have found to keep myself from turning the adventure into a chore is to not use a cart or even a basket.  that way, despite how much i might think i need an item, if we can't carry it in our hands, it's not coming home with us.

there's a lot going on in the produce section of a grocery store.  not just apples, but lots and lots of different kinds of apples.  not just oranges, but lots of related citrus fruits, like mandarins and tangerines.  bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages.  all colorful and appetizing and amazing.

the seafood area appeals to ander, too, especially the whole crabs.  we looked at the massive variety of cheeses, including a purple one.  we smelled the breads from the bakery and admired the intricately decorated cookies and, amazingly, didn't feel compelled to see if there was a free cookie available, as we nearly always do when the three of us go to a particular other supermarket.

coming home with the orange and looking forward to putting it in his lunch box and sharing the sections with friends on the playground (just like in the book) gives ander inspiration for designing his own narrative.  he's not simply reading about what someone else has done; he's identified a  storyline that appeals to him and he takes action to create his own, individual experience.  and when we read the book again, or talk about his adventures with me, he feels a sense of affiliation and achievement.

this was even more evident to me the next morning, when he woke me up at 6:30, the sun just peeking out, so that he could experince anne rockwell's pumpkin day, pumpkin night for himself.  we had read this book first at a friend's house; i found it at the library, along with other appealing titles from the same author who we enjoy so much.

ander chose not to carve his jack o'lantern just before halloween.  he was content to admire his drawing handiwork on his pumpkin and watch steve, diana, and some friends cut into and carve theirs.

but on that chilly morning, he was ready.  we collected his pumpkin from outside, that perfect, round, orange pumpkin that had been waiting just for him at the pumpkin patch.  he drew a circle around the top for me to cut out the cap.  we scooped out the insides and roasted the seeds.  (what a delightful, nutty smell emanating from the kitchen on a cold morning.)  he drew the triangles for eyes and one for a nose and asked me to draw a big, wide, toothy grin, just like in the book.  when i had cut everything out to his satisfaction, we put a candle inside and watched it glow.

because he wanted to carry his pumpkin around everywhere, particularly to wake his still-sleeping sister, we replaced the actual fiery candle with one of those little battery-operated ones for safety.

he reads the book by himself now, mostly by memory but with visibly clear attention to each word to ensure he doesn't miss a single beat.  he points things out with great enthusiasm, and reminisces with me about having visited each of the different pumpkin patches and finding just the right pumpkin.

not every book inspires this kind of action from him.  but when it does, there's little i need to do except listen to his requests and help him fulfill them.  his resulting sense of accomplishment - hearing him say "i did it myself!" is priceless to me.

note: i've been working on this post for a couple of days. this morning, i put into practice framing my shopping attitude with one child and extending it to both on a trip to costco.  it was an amazing, energetic (through not the frenetic kind), and fun experience for all three of us.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! It's always amazing to me how expectations about an activity can so strongly affect how we experience it. This anecdote is another bit of evidence suggesting optimism is not (just) for fools.