Olivia last night said she didn’t want a story before bed. “Why?” I asked, with a mix of relief for having the extra time to myself, and apprehension, because I actually love story time. I’m a bit of a bibliophile, and reading together is one of my most treasures moments. I do it every single night since she was a baby, no matter how busy I am or where we are in the world. I probably verge on the point of paranoia, so imagine my affliction when she replied with the following.
“Books are boring,” she said, without hesitation. My heart broke in a million pieces.
“Why?!” I asked, trying not to sound too crazy. She was teasing me, of course she was. She’s got that kind of personality, the kind that pesters her friends endlessly just to get a reaction – and most of the time, there’ll be tears.
But she wasn’t teasing me. She just said “well, because they are.”
To be fair, I was holding a copy of Peter Pan, which is a long story for a 4-year-old. Specially if it’s not animated and it doesn’t come with an embedded Disney musical. I know because that’s sort of what she said, shutting the book in my hands.
“I don’t like Peter Pan, it’s too long and boring.”
“But it’s a POP-UP edition, and it’s got all these beautiful illustrations!”, I defended myself, helplessly. It didn’t work, obviously.
“I don’t like it. I want to go to bed.”
I gave her the benefit of the doubt – after all, it’s ok not to like a book. There are others. But she wasn’t having any of it.
“Why don’t you go and pick a different book? Anything you want.”
“No, thank you. I don’t want a story tonight.”
“BUT WHY.” I know I was sounding crazy already. But you know, when you’re faced with one of your biggest nightmares – own child not liking books – you tend to react a bit crazy. (“one of your biggest nightmares? PFFF, #firstworldproblems” i hear you say. Yeah, alright, now go away.)
“Because books ARE boring,” she says again, a dead look in her eyes. She looks strangely grown-up saying that.
“YOU DON’T MEAN THAT.”
“I do!” She pulls her blanket over her face, trying to end this conversation. But I refused to be defeated.
“You’re making me sad.”
“Seriously. You are.”
Closes her eyes. Falls asleep.
I go online and google “what have I done wrong my kid thinks books are boring.”
Everyone says “read to her. Let her choose her books. Make sure she has a shelf and a reading nook. Take her to the library and bookshops.”
I’ve ticked all the boxes already. I’ve ticked those boxes from the moment she was conceived! I was born to tick those boxes!!!
Then there’s one more: “don’t be pushy.”
Well, when it comes to books, I’m not sure I can make that compromise. I’ll let her wear PJs to school, and eat cereal for dinner, and stay up past 9pm, but I won’t give up on story time. NEVER. So I order some new books, and make peace with the fact that that box will have to remain un-ticked.