Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mother and Child

Though I've tried and failed to keep an accurate count and I can't remember the content of all, I've read several hundred children's books over the past three or so years. This morning, I actually had pause to think of some that I've held while cuddled up to my babies.

Some have been too didactic for my tastes while others have been set to rhymes that have made me cringe. But I think I've enjoyed most of our repertoire, especially those that illustrate some poignant, universal qualities of the parent-young child relationship and wherein the expression or acknowledgment of which usually culminates in the mother reassuringly saying, "I love you."

I'm thinking of such titles: The Runaway Bunny; Olivia; Goodnight, My Duckling . . .

Very sweet. Every mother can recognize her own relationhip in the narrative and everyone feels warm and fuzzy at this point. Even a memorably difficult parenting day depicted in Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox ends with this tacit understanding of shared affection.

So, what prompted the memories of these books?

Just moments before, after joining my family in the tornadic swirl of activity that has become breakfast, I looked at my loving little 21-month-old as she reached for a piece of waffle:

"I love you, Molly." I said in a syrup-y, sing-song voice.

"I know."

Because she usually says "too" in this game, everyone laughed at the unexpected, matter-of-fact response.

But I was also stunned as well as amused. A sharp contrast to the content of those books was definitely not what I'd been set up for over the past few years, yet her first two-word response to "I love you" was really very funny.

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