The boys don’t get many toys in the middle of the year. This time of year brings in the Big Toy Hull; between their week-apart birthdays, their birthday party and, of course, Christmas, they really want for nothing when the holiday season wraps up. They don’t really ask for many toys throughout the year either, so I rarely have to have the “Let’s Wait for Birthdays/etc” conversation.
I have a weakness though. And my children know it.
I mean, I’m a book worm myself. I love books. I’ve gotten good at re-selling, donating or simply passing books on to friends over the years so as not to overwhelm the whole house. I have a real problem, however, in not buying All The Books for the boys. There are books in every room for them to read. Books on all sorts of subjects. Duplicates of books. Books books books. I really don’t see it as a problem. I see it as a good thing.
It’s Book Fair week at BigBrother’s school.
Today was their “look” day. I met him at the bus stop (oh yes) after school and asked him how his day went. He told me a few things before starting in on the Book Fair.
“There’s this Ninjago book and it comes with the green ninja and the book is expensive; it’s NINETEEN DOLLARS, Mom. But I was thinking about using my own money to buy it, you know, so you can use your money to buy Christmas presents and stuff.”
He said it all in one breath, like he rehearsed it on the bus. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, walking quickly as the raindrops had started to fall from the threatening clouds that crept in during my run. He was looking at me out of the corner of his eye too, trying to gauge my response.
“Oh, I see.” I went neutral, but my heart was already softened. I mean, it’s a book and he played the whole “I’ll buy it myself so you can buy Christmas gifts” card. Smart kid, let me tell you.
I remember wanting books in the monthly book order and at the Book Fair. Money was tight at times when I was growing up, probably more than I understood at the time. But I knew my parents didn’t have all of the money in the world. Sometimes I wouldn’t give them the book order or tell them about the Book Fair; I would sit in my room and circle the books I wanted, the books I dreamed about. I longed for the expensive books even on months that my mom managed to buy me one of the cheaper books. I would run my fingers over the hardback, sleek, costly books at the Book Fair, sitting atop the silver, movable shelves. I had lots of books at home; my parents always made sure I did even when times were tight. Many of them were my mothers’ books from her childhood. It’s not that I didn’t have stuff to read. But oh, I longed for books that I wanted, not just that my parents thought would be good for me to read.
I buy the boys a lot of books I think would be good for them to read. I try to throw in lots of books that I think they will find fun to read as well. There are differences in what we both think is fun and good, of course, and I try to find a balance between the good and fun, the want and the need. I try to let them pick out their own books when we’re shopping, offering suggestions and guidance. I talk to them about new releases, try to pique their interest in new authors and series.
But sometimes a boy just wants to read a book about LEGO ninjas.
Reading is reading. Reading is good. No, the book that I’ll write a check for tomorrow morning won’t likely win any literary awards this year, but it will win the heart of a young reader who stays up an hour past his bedtime sometimes to read.
And I’m okay with that.