What a dreadful ride home! The twenty-five miles took nearly two hours, and the rejuvenating power of my four hours of sleep the night before had long worn off. My eyes were watering. I was yawning uncontrollably. And if it weren’t for the fast songs blaring loudly through the speakers, I may have veered dangerously into the lane next to me.
I called my girlfriend, letting her know that I would be there soon to pick up the Pirate and the Princess, imploring her to get them ready with coats and shoes to expedite my exit. She did, and with the girls snapped safely into their seats, I headed toward home.
“Green Eggs and Ham,” the Princess began, “by Dr. Seuss.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I shouted.
“What Mommy?” asked the Pirate.
“Oh, no, Sweetie. Not you guys. You’re fine. There’s just an accident up here, so I need to find another route home.”
“Oh,” they replied in unison.
Of course, I had taken the same route home every day, and I had no idea how the city had laid out stop signs and school safety speed bumps throughout the neighborhood, so the usual 75 second ride home took 5 minutes.
“’That Sam-I-Am, that Sam-I-Am, I do not like that Sam-I-Am’” rang not so melodiously from the back seat.
“Wow,” I thought. “We must have been reading that book a lot lately. She’s memorized the whole first few pages!
“’I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. I do not like green eggs and ham.’”
“Why does Sam keep trying to make him eat that food?” she questioned.
“He just wants him to try something different. It’s good sometimes to try new things.”
“I could not, would not, in a house. I could not, would not, with a mouse,” continued the Princess.
Finally, my curiosity could not, would not, take it any longer without questioning. “Princess, did you memorize that whole story?”
“What does memorize mean, Mommy?” she inquired.
Instead of trying to figure out how to explain that and back into the garage, I asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m reading, Mommy.”
Somehow the thought of her actually reading never crossed my mind. Yes, I had been really working with her on her reading since March. Yes, I had been practicing her sight words with her. Yes, I had played the memory match games her teacher had been sending home. But, no, I had no idea that all of that work had converged and created an actual reader!
“Are you sure you’re actually reading it? It’s really dark in the car, Baby.”
“Mommy, there are street lights! Yes, I am reading it.”
“But do you just remember all the words, or are you really reading what’s there on the pages?”
“Mommy, I’m not telling stories! I’m reading stories!” Her indignation started to convince me.
“Okay, bring it in the house, and you can read for me.”
“Okay, Mommy.” A big grin stretched proudly across her face as I wondered how I could have missed this much development in my baby.
After putting on pajamas and eating our evening snack, the girls crawled into bed on either side of me. The Princess proudly grabbed Green Eggs and Ham, and began reading page after page to us. There are moments, ladies and gentlemen, that send shivers up a parent’s spine, and this was one of those moments! After finishing that last page, the Pirate jumped on top of her sister and planted huge kisses all over her face. The joy she felt at knowing that her sister had read her a story literally made tears come to my eyes. It was a beautiful snapshot of our lives.
“Mommy?” questioned the Princess.
“Would it be okay if I read us another story?”
“You’re the best, Mommy!” She hopped down from the bed and ran full speed to her closet. I could hear her rummaging through her books to find the right story.
“Hurry up, Sister!” demanded the Pirate.
“I’m coming!” the Princess screamed back.
“I’ve got it!” She crawled stealthily into bed, beaming proudly at the book in her hands.
“The Good Earth,” she read, “by Pearl Buck.”
I don’t think the Pirate lasted thirty seconds with that one!