Books, and Community, and Knitting, and Whatnot

A few weeks ago all was chaos in our house. Camp (all two weeks of it) was ending, and a trip to the grandparents was beginning, and I was trying to commute to BlogHer'10 while seeing small people safely off, making sure they had everything they needed, and trying to make sure the cat had sufficient fluids and go to work and stuff like that. (Ah work, it always gets in the way.)

So I tried to be the sort of parent I wish I were, and wrote up a list of what they should pack, complete with numbers of shorts to pack (5) and long-sleeved shirts (2). And, of  course, books.

These are the times when I wish there was a kid's kindle, one that could store up a whole bunch of titles, but wouldn't break if you sat on it or stood on it or spilled ice cream on it.

This being reality, what we had instead were those plastic woven shopping bags that hurt your hand if you put too much stuff in them. And so everyone got to work busily stuffing as much in them as possible. And it was illuminating what they took.

Chestnut has become the avid reader she always meant to be. It's as if her skills have caught up with her desire, and it somehow melted all the resistance and frustration right away. She can now sit for hours on the couch with some long chapter book, and so, I figured, that is what she would take.

I was wrong.


She spent most of her time at the bottom shelf of her bookshelf, that is the tallest shelf—the ones where the picture books reside. And when (like an idiot) I said, "Oh, you're bringing Knitting Nell?" just like some bad mother in a movie would say, "Oh, you're wearing that?" she just cheerfully said, "Yeah sure," with a look at me to check that I wasn't losing my mind. "Um, Mom, it's a great book, remember?"

It's a really nice book, all about a shy person who finds what she likes to do and then does it, is true to herself, and helps other people—something not so many kid's books talk about in a way that's comfortable to read. But the book is a lot like Nell herself: unassuming, quiet, and really really nice.

And I thought, Oh, right. I do remember. I feel quite luck, actually, to have people around to remind me of things like that.

6 thoughts on “Books, and Community, and Knitting, and Whatnot

  1. I have to keep reminding myself to let mine do her thing — make her choices as I bite my tongue about the radically mismatched outfit, the lopsided but easily correctable (by me) art kit, the choice of a Littlest Pet Shop “book” instead of one I know has an actual, not lame, story. (Nice way to pass judgement. I can’t bite my brain as I do my tongue, however.) It’s cool that Chestnut finds comfort in the old chestnuts on the bottom shelf.


  2. About the book you mentioned: Because I knit, someone gave my daughter this book and I have to say I HATE IT. I hate that she stops talking because of something a boy says and she only knits for others and then when the boy says she’s kind of cool she starts to talk again (I know I’m summing this up in the most damning way, but it’s the only way I can remember it). Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I feel like she’s just this empty shell only reacting and acting to please others. I guess I see it totally the opposite of you do. It’s nice to hear why you all like it. I’ll go read it again to make sure that I wasn’t just in a horrid mood when we read it.
    About the idea you brought up: My daughter is reading a god-awful Barbie book my in-laws gave her. It’s giving me hives, but my husband cheerfully reads it to her each night. I don’t think I could be that patient. I keep trying though.


  3. WOW, Kate, you really hate it. I must say that I totally identify with your response. Though it’s not how I feel about this book, it’s how I respond to many, and I wonder how much it has to do with the moment I’m in and all that sort of thing.
    And you have, I’m sure, all of our sympathy. Barbie books occupy one of the lower circles of hell, just above Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony. At the bottom is a giant Care Bear chewing up Judas.


  4. Our former preschool had “movie day” where the kids would bring their favorite dvds, and I don’t know if they watched parts of them, or what, but one of the moms would always pack a Barbie dvd. She was one of the most “with it” moms I knew there, very on top of things at the school and making sure everything was as it should be. So, I questioned her about the Barbie flicks, and she said they were very girl empowering. So, I succumbed. I have to say, I agree. Maybe it’s a new breed of Barbie that has come out? Not sure. But, I know this is just a phase, and I’m glad we have something positive on that sort of note.


  5. I love Knitting Nell. My 8 year old daughter has relied on picture books for a long time too – she just loves them, and can’t bear to part with them. We did just box them all up, but she kept out the Babar books,Knitting Nell, and another favorite, Franny B. Kranny, There’s a Bird in Your Hair.


  6. That is really nice that she’s so confident in her love of that book. I myself tend to get very wrapped up in the way things “ought” to be, especially (because that’s where my insanity resides, I guess) when it comes to organizing or decorating things. And yet there I was, preparing hundreds of these little cards so that we could start at-home preschool next week, sorting out the ant size sorter from the butterfly one and other ridiculous and time-consuming things, and my 2-year-old decided she wanted to help color the number hopscotch game I had painstakingly decorated. And after I (mentally) shrieked at the mess she was making of my project, I was able to realize that she should look at the stuff she’s using to learn with, and be proud. It’s often hard for me to let go of my ideas about what’s right and (even harder) realize it’s not all about me. Good for Chestnut for knowing what she loves, and good for you for being able to see what’s great about it!


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