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I Don’t Think That’s What They Meant

I’ve always known that reading to my kids was good for them.

Expanding their horizons, showing them different worlds, different people, cultures, ideas, crammed in the pages of a bound book.

And there are books on all sorts of topics for kids now.

Books just for the pleasure of reading an entertaining story, books for education.

There are books for potty-training, for bed-time, for learning to deal with siblings, leaning to cope with the death of a pet, learning how to be better at this or that, for learning everything from alphabets to zydeco music playing.

I know that reading – reading almost anything – broadens anyone’s mind, not just a child’s.

But – the other night, I added a twist.

OnlySon is 16.  And he and I both understand that he’s far more esoterically knowledgeable than most people think.  We talk to each other in a manner most wouldn’t expect a parent to talk to a 16 yr. old.

I talk to him more as I would another adult.  Well, at least, another adult who just so happens to be my 16 yr. old child.  There are still some subjects we both agree are not appropriate, not – ugh – comfortable for either of us.  And our agreement works.

He can handle it – and he respects me for respecting that about him.

So, the other night, I was reading a new book I’d picked up at the book store – Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking”.

It’s a hilarious set of stories about things that have happened to him in his own life.  And he freely admits that he’s “emotionally damaged goods”, so, even while I can feel bad about the fucked up things he’s had to experience growing up, and since, I can laugh along with him as he laughs at himself.

I sat and chuckled, snickered, and gut-busted laughed for 2 hours straight after bringing this home and immediately sitting down to enjoy it.

Of course, OnlySon had to know what was so funny.

So – I read a chapter – out loud – to him.

All about how Augusten had found a “rat/thing” in his bathroom, and proceeded to destroy it, then to go on to practically destroy his bathroom in order to rid himself of the taint of the rat/thing’s infestation of his life.

It’s funnier in the book.

And, after hearing the story, my son proceeded to tell me about a story he’d read – about a man who’d chugged half a soda, only to find a ground up frog in the can…..

The things we do to one another for the sake of a good story. *urp*

Later than night, I was standing in the bathroom, contemplating the meaning of life (brushing my teeth, actually, but close enough), when I heard EldestDaughter downstairs.  The cadence and rhythm of her voice told me she was reading a new story to the ToddlerTornado.

And I was struck by the coincidence, and the slight difference of the subject matter we’d each chosen to read to our sons.

At least… well, leaning out of the bathroom, I was pretty sure my new book was still sitting by my chair.

I don’t think that’s what they meant when the “experts” said “Read to Your Children”.

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