I wanted to share this beautiful video Seth made of Foos reading and enjoying The Little Prince about two months ago. June 29th would have been Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 117th birthday. My friend and fairy godperson, Stephanie, got her a pristine copy of that book earlier this year and she finally got around to read it. I made the mistake of letting her see the movie before she read the book and had to field about a thousand questions about the discrepancies between the two. Even so, it was truly a treat to see her enjoy it and engage with it so much.
A few weeks ago Foos learned to ride her bike without training wheels. We got her this bike two years ago, when she was still so little that harvesting the strength to simply get the pedals moving seemed like herculean task. Even recently, if she went a few weeks without riding the bike it was as if she was getting back on it for the first time— slow and unsteady, like a drunk walking a line. She rode her bike to the park that morning, where she befriended a fellow bike rider, an older girl named Jessica, who turned Foos into her disciple. They excluded the bikeless from their schemes, chased each other in figure eights, raced to a victory line of their own making, and stopped short of a stranger enough times I contemplated leaving the park for fear of injury. During one of these loops, Jessica explained to Foos that her training wheels sometimes didn’t touch the ground. In fact, she may not need the training wheels at all! I watched this revelation unfold from afar, Jessica pointing to the wheels, Foos’ initial confusion and realization. Foos seemed so pleased by this news that when she rode her bike to tell me, grin on full display, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the wheels where designed that way. But Jessica had planted the germ, and I was going to take it as far as I could. As we were leaving the park I casually mentioned removing the training wheels, and she agreed without hesitation.
That afternoon, I fashioned knee pads for her out of tape and leggings while Seth removed the training wheels. We gave her the pep talk—you will fall down, you will get hurt, you may not get it today, but eventually you will. She rolled her eyes and walked her bike to the empty lot, the tape of her knee pads making noise every time she bent her knees. The expression on her face like she had been doomed to damnatio ad bestias. With seth holding on to the bike they went around the lot a few times. The first time he let go, she fell. The second time, she fell. The third time, she fell too. Big fat tears rolling down her face, threats of quitting and going back upstairs coming out of her mouth. We had been reading The Hobbit the night before, and I sat her on my lap and asked “How would you introduce yourself to Smaug? I know how I would. You are the never quitter, the rider of bikes, the scrape eater, queen of wheels,” and so on. She nodded her head. With her dad running after her, and me shouting introductions to Smaug, she got back on and fell down about a dozen times. A couple of our neighbors came out to cheer. Twenty minutes later she was going around the lot on her own. An hour after that, she was riding down the block.
She told us she promised her bike she would ride her everyday, and she almost always does.
Reading the anxiety away. Trying to, anyway. Getting lost in someone else’s fictional shenanigans is weirdly satisfying. I just finished The Vegetarian, and whatever shortcomings I feel are present in my (comfortable) life, at the very least, its not that. Next, I want to read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, because historical fiction is my jam, and word is it’s an amazing read. Apparently everyone else in my city heard this too — the wait list for the book at my library is more than seventy people deep. My first instinct was to be annoyed at this, but then I thought it was kind of wonderful that other people were interested in reading it too.
My daughter has been a reading machine lately. In the car, while walking to school, at the supermarket, at home —she is never without a book in hand. Photos I sneak of her reading have taken over my instagram feed. Sometimes when I am lost in my own head, thinking in circles about goals and how I can achieve them and how I probably won’t because all I do is shuffle back and forth, I realize how quiet it is. Then in a panic I start to look for her and almost always find her, book in hand, in some corner of the apartment. It is a relief that she is a dedicated bibliophile, the tiniest of bookworms, consuming chapter books at the age of five in a way most people don’t until much older, if ever. Anyway, she has inspired me to try and read more books this year. I am going to try and read at least two books per month, which doesn’t seem like very many. I am hoping that will be a starting point and that as I get better at carving out time to read I will be able to read more than that. Wish me luck!
1. Listening to: The Magnolia Electric Co. Songs: Ohia. I have never heard this record, but a friend thought I would like it and lent it to me on vinyl. 2. Reading: Saanaq: An Inuit Novel. Another friend who is teaching this book in one of her classes, sent me a copy! I’m half way through, but I plan on finishing it this weekend (I have good friends). 3. I am hosting my in-laws and Seth’s aunt for dinner on Sunday, and will be making this lasagna recipe. I always tweak it and make it vegetarian using meat substitutes, but this time I’m going to do it the right way. This is their photo, please don’t sue me.
Our favorite librarian, Erin, recommended we check Creaturepedia out. We did and foos loves it! She loves it so much she has to take it with her when she goes for bike rides with her dad; so much she sat on the sofa and read it cover to cover the minute we got home. I love it too — I want every illustration framed or tattooed on my face. Creaturepedia manages to be informative, whimsical, and incredibly beautiful. We don’t own it yet, though we did buy a copy as a gift for someone else, but we added to the amazon wish list pile. Happy reading!
Photos: Seth – www.karmathartic.com
One of my closest friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years ago, and yesterday, after many months of unsuccessful chemo, she decided she no longer wishes to receive treatment. So today hasn’t been the best day, and I don’t think this weekend will be any better. I will be listening to a ton of mountain goats and trying to wrap my head around how weird life is. I started reading this Chomsky book, which is also depressing as hell, and I’m not sure will make anything better. I need to finish reading it because I also borrowed its companion book and I wish to read both before JPL wants them back. Additionally, I started reading Harriet the Spy with Foos, and I really wish someone had reminded me that Harriet is a judgmental asshole who thinks everyone is fat before I started reading it to my four year old. I didn’t think a photo existed for “crying sporadically,” which is why the wasting my time spot is empty. But that’s what I will be doing. Love your friends, and keep ’em close, because life can get weird.