The Words I Always Hear

“Oh, I wish there were some words in the world that are not the words I always hear!” Snow White exclaimed loudly.

The other night, while putting Zoe to bed, I totally related to Snow White.  I mean, not in the Post Modern sense Donald Barthelme intended in his grim little PoMo Snow White, but in the sense that any caregiver of a two-year-old can understand.

As I cast my weary gaze over the familiar book titles, I asked, “Where are the words that are not the words I always hear?”

I did not ask this aloud, because I am not the kind of person that riffs on Barthelme at toddler bedtime, but I really did think it.  (Thanks, Professor Greg Smith.  Your Post Modern American Novel class really helped out my blog today!)  I put Zoe to bed almost every night, and I love doing it, but lately we have been in a bedtime book rut.

How serendipitous, then, that also lately, I have been eyeing a certain hard-to-reach bookshelf in the living room and wondering just which children’s books are hiding down there.  Last night, I crawled into the corner and found a treasure trove: Ira Sleeps Over!  Corduroy!  A Birthday for Frances!  The Terrible Toy-Breakers!  Pig Pig Grows Up!  (And many more.)  There they were, waiting as they had been since . . . well, probably since I put them there last summer.

Zoe found me, and we spent the half hour before bedtime reading those books.  Then, we took a few into her room and read some more.  And even though they were mostly books I have read hundreds (thousands?) of times before, they were a breath of fresh air.  They were spring.  They were not the words I always hear.

No offense, Where is Baby’s Birthday Cake?.  Your day will come again.

Woman reads as baby sleeps



Filed under Book Report

10 responses to “The Words I Always Hear

  1. You had me at Donald Barthelme and Snow White! I love how you deftly wove the idea of postmodern lit with early childhood reading, then added (so carefully! so gently!) this next stage in Zoe’s and your journey together. You really rocked this piece, Maggie! Yes!


  2. I can really relate to this, and will tell you that it doesn’t change as they get older. The books do, but you’ll be reading them over & over, and then listening to them read those same books to you…over & over. I try to rotate the books in the living room basket, but it never fails that of the 20-30 that are there, he will only find what he is seeking when he searches the shelves for the one we read last night…and the night before…and the night before. 🙂


    • I know it! I made my parents read But No Elephants to me about six hundred thousand times when I was Zoe’s age, so I can’t really complain now! I need to do some book rotating around the house, too.


  3. I so remember those days! Kids love repetition. That is why they will watch the same video over again and again! A new book was alwasy so wonderful! I picked them up at thrift stores and garage sales so we could have a ready supply of new material without it costing too much.


    • Me too! I love thrift stores – they are such treasure troves for books!


    • Yes (and yes)! I am really looking forward to garage sale season, mostly for clothes for Zoe but also for books and toys. I think she’s actually excited to have some new ones in the mix, too. She went right for the “new” ones I added to her bedroom bookshelf tonight.


  4. Pingback: Our Sunday Best : Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? (Yes. Yes, I Do.) « Bluebird Blvd.

  5. Nice. Such a fun time with a toddler in your lap and reading much loved stories.


  6. Fresh reads are fun after a steady diet of sameness. We’re reading the Little House Series, and I now look forward to bed time.


    • They sure are! I do look forward to reading the Little House books with Zoe, too! I think I will look for the picture book ones at the library next time–we might be ready to try those.


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