Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Perfect Minutes

Sitting on my lap in the same yellow rocking chair in which I rocked him as a baby, Ben read me the book he brought home from school: Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea. The series of books, written in simple yet lovely language for the early reader, chronicle the adventures of a young boy and his giant, drooly pup, Mudge.

These books have been Ben's favorite since we discovered them at the library over the summer. Now that we have our own giant dog, Merlot, Ben understands the canine nonchalance of Mudge, who--in the midst of Henry's escapades--remains faithful to his doggy nature: eating, sleeping, licking, snuggling, and maintaining a gentle loyalty to his boy. These behaviors usually appear in contrast to the activities of the humans in the story, to subtle comic effect. The humor is never lost on Ben.

So last night before bed, we're in the chair together, and I'm marveling at the ease and fluency with which he reads this book that at one time would have been challenging, when Ben reaches a page where Henry and his father are making sand castles at the beach. The author narrarates their contributions: Henry's father made the towers, Henry made the moats, and Mudge, true to form, makes a bed and goes to sleep. 

Something about this line tickled Ben's sensibilities, causing him to chuckle, then giggle, and then laugh, uncontrollably. Delight consumed his little face, which turned crimson from breathlessness. I couldn't help but laugh along, watching his eyes turn up with exuberance. When he finally pulled himself together and turned the page, he fell into another fit of laughter at the sight of Henry's dad's rubber lobster on top of the sand castle, poised like a flag. This time, he giggled so hard he doubled over, rocking back and forth in hysterics. 

It was two of my favorite minutes of parenting. Ever.

To witness him reading, to contemplate the growth that has occurred in six years, to see him connect so strongly with this sweet story, and to share in the joy of all his skills and experiences converging in complete understanding--it was the kind of moment I wish I could bottle to pull out on days when my soul needs some joy. 

More and more lately, I find myself watching this little boy with wonder. Parenting, at times, is like slowly unwrapping a gift in which I discover, little by little, how thoughtfully and purposefully these little people were given, and how perfectly they fulfill the desires of my heart. 


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