Today, the Girl Child and I found ourselves at a bit of a loose end. The Boy Child was at a sleepover with a friend, Hot Husband was at work, and we had no appointments or commitments to attend to.
“So, Lu, whaddaya wanna do today? Shall we go out?”
She looks up from her book, face brightening as an idea strikes her.
“How about we go shopping? Just window shopping, I won’t ask for anything, I PROMISE.”
“Rightio. Let’s go window shopping!”
So we hopped in the car and headed into town, where we strolled through a few shops, admiring cushions, and toys, and lunchboxes. And true to her promise, she didn’t ask to buy anything (although she did heavily hint at the fact that she might like a beanbag chair for her birthday).
After we had finished our browsing, we bought a couple of drinks and, on a whim, headed to her next favourite place in the World: The Library.
Now, we haven’t been to the library in quite some time, but the Girl Child is a voracious reader, and we used to be frequent fliers at our local library, loading up with piles of books at nearly every visit.
When we went on our road trip last year, the only thing she cared enough to pack, were books. She took an entire backpack of junior fiction with her, and had finished the lot by day 3 of the trip. So, she read them again.
She received a Kindle for Christmas this year, to try and lighten the physical load of packing for our next road trip. She’s already finished everything on it.
She just loves books.
As I watch her scouring the shelves for new titles, eyes sparkling, it occurs to me just how alike she and I really are.
I know how she feels, perusing those displays, because as an eight year old, I was exactly the same. Hell, as an adult, I’m exactly the same.
I recall losing entire days completely immersed in the fantasy worlds of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl at her age, to the point where I’d need to be reminded to eat, or sleep. I watch her do the same, albeit with different authors, and I can relate to her frustration at being disturbed, and the difficulty she sometimes experiences, transitioning between the two worlds.
I still struggle with the same thing myself.
My heart swells watching her face as she considers the potential of each book that she touches, and for the first time, I feel a tinge of sadness as I watch her bypass the picture books completely.
“Those books are for little kids, mum.”
CLUNK, goes my heart, as I put the beautiful collector’s edition of Curious George back on the shelf.
“But, aren’t you my little kid?”
She rolls her eyes at me, and continues her search in the tween aisle.
Finally, armed with a pile of carefully chosen stories, she and I sit on the big red couch near the window, sipping our drinks, and reading the books that we have each found, in wonderful, companionable silence.
The Boy Child would have been bored senseless by this little expedition. And I suspect the same would have been true of Hot Husband.
But she and I were in our own little pocket of Heaven, snuggled up on that red couch, with her hand resting on my arm, as her eyes flew over the words that would transport her into the life of the characters she was discovering.
It was magic.
And as we checked out of the library with our books tucked under our arms, I realised that we had just rediscovered a place where we understood each other, easily and without question.
No nagging, no sulking, no tension or stress.
Surrounded by millions of words of others, we didn’t need to use our own. There was simply, peace, for both of us.
Girl Child, you may not think you’re my “little kid”, but there’s no denying you’re mine.
Today was definitely a day for the Happiness Jar.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a chapter to read.