Last summer you read your very first words: hero and jumbo. You were excited, I was electrified – we were both proud. In that moment we both pulled back the curtain ever so slightly, peering out onto a stage illuminated with infinite possibilities.
Reading has underscored my whole life. I devoured books, often at such a breakneck pace, that they couldn’t be purchased or checked out quickly enough to keep up with my insatiability. As quickly as I could get my hands on one, I was turning the last page and searching for the next. When I became pregnant with you, many daydreams involved reading to you as an infant, and then cuddled next to you at night taking you on adventures of magic where owls deliver messages, into the Big Woods of Wisconsin with Laura Ingalls, and through wardrobes where White Queens reign. I filled your shelves with stories I loved, and hoped you would love, too. And you do. We read nightly, always two stories (one long, one short).
Letters make more sense now, and the concept of stringing them together to make sounds is becoming more and more familiar. It’s there, Lucy – you’re so close. Words are also something with which you’ve been fascinated; fragments of a kaleidoscope you constantly want to make sense of. So many times you’ll look up from your iPad and the benign garbage you’re watching on Kids YouTube and ask about a new-to-you word – Mom, what’s mercury? What’s similar? What’s quizzical? What’s tender mean? I never tire of these kinds of questions, and I’m always in awe of your ability to remember what the words mean, and how well you put them into use soon thereafter – Mom, Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani look very similar when they both have the blonde hair. Sometimes, at night, after we’ve read our stories and sang our two songs (currently “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Blackbird”), you ask me to tell you a story, and I am challenged to come up with something in the moment. It’s fun because you’ll pepper my narrative with plot twists your feel are necessary, or names of characters that seem to fit best according to your five-year-old fancy.
Last night I was upstairs reading, and you were downstairs watching “CHiPs” with Big Red, and I overheard you ask him, a few times, what the words on the TV said. In that moment, as my eyes slowed on the words in front of them, I set down my book and tried to imagine what it’s like to be you in this moment – to see letters and understand them as individual markers, to recognize a handful of words, but not be able to truly read. That the letters strung together are just fancy patterns, something to be admired, but a talisman not yet discovered.
You are Dorothy, Lucy, inside the ramshackle farmhouse, your hand on the doorknob. What awaits you on the other side is a world of Technicolor and enchantment. A seamless road that begins with words, and in which the in-between is colored by your imagination. There is no end, Lucy - only more.
You are so very close, darling. It’s all right there in front of you – the curtain begging to be drawn back, the stage revealed.