Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For the Love of...

Jen Robinson is a smart and thoughtful blogger. She's one of a handful of kidlit blogsters who I correspond with and have tried to meet up with in her hometown of San Jose, where I also have family.

I was away last week and fell behind on my blog reading. Jen Robinson's Book Page is always the place where I find myself slowing down, nodding in agreement, and thinking how intimidating Jen is (she's so much more worldly and intelligent than me).

Anywho, she mentioned in a recent post, her love of reading and how she feels it led to her education at Duke University. I am convinced that my love of reading and my desire to be close to books led me to my dream job, but I digress. This is not about work or college.

My story begins in late 2003. I'm eight months pregnant and sitting on the floor in front of my (then) husband, surrounded by dozens of other just-as-pregnant couples, all of whom are strangers. The two teachers are irritating me, as is everyone there (hormones) and I'm emotional, tired, hungry and just want to know when I'd be able to receive an epidural (I had no idea that I'd end up having a c-section at this point).

At one point, one of the teachers asks us all, one at a time, to share one of our partner's traits that we hope will be passed on to our unborn child. Luckily, my partner and I are in the middle of the half-circle so I'm grateful that I will have time to listen to every one's responses and to come up with an even better one of my own.

People around us are saying things like, "Her smile, or his sense of humor," along with other physical traits that I can't understand. I mean, I of course want my child to be healthy and happy, but I never thought about wanting him to have certain physical features.

When it came to our turn to speak, I was proud of both my answer and my partner. I spoke up loud and clear and let everyone know that the one trait in my partner I hoped would be passed along to our son would be his work ethic. He's a very hard worker and does everything he can to provide for his family.

I thought this was it. I was done. I no longer had to speak or participate for the rest of the day so I let my guard down. My partner (who I couldn't see because I was leaning back upon his chest), said, "I hope our son inherits her love of reading." I would've fainted if I hadn't already been sitting down. Tears poured out of my eyes and I was literally choking up over his thoughtful response and probably the biggest compliment one could ever pay me.

Illustration from And After That...
From Belgium, by Jeanne Ashbé

(K/M, 2002)

I have been working hard every day to make sure that my son does inherit my love of reading. I think that part of my job is done, as he enjoys heading to the library, the local bookstore, or my office, which is of course lined with bookshelves.

My son is already a hard worker and I can see how dedicated and focused he is on whatever task or challenge is presented to him. He's inherited his dad's smile, his mother's patience and his grandparents' red hair. And who knows? He could end up at Duke someday, too.

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