(As I'm writing that sentence, I'm thinking that it might have only happened once, but in my mind - I remember it happening several times. Regardless! I loved to read when I was a child! A lot!)
It was during those days that I first stumbled upon the works of Beverly Cleary. It was also when I discovered all of the books Judy Blume had ever written, including Forever. (Blush!)
In looking back, I attribute my ability to read on a twelfth grade level when I was only in sixth grade, to my voracious reading skills that I honed while sitting on a floor in the back corner of the mall bookstore circa 1981. Oh the memories!
For their birthday this past October, Aunt Susan (Charlie's sister), took me on a long walk down memory lane when she sent our children the entire collection of the Ramona books which were organized in to two convenient volumes Volume 1 and Volume 2. And almost immediately (plus or minus a month), I began reading the books from my childhood to my children.
See, when the children were toddlers, I came to realize that if I read to them - while they were seated at the table - they'd stay seated quietly and would eat everything on their plates. These days, including their vegetables. Because that habit of reading during mealtime has taken a firm hold in our home, to this very day, I'll read (in between bites) whenever we are gathered at the table.
Sometimes, it's only a chapter. But other times, I'll crank out an entire book in a day. As I've been re-reading these classic books, I've been relating to the characters in a whole different way. For instance, I remember Ramona as being a misunderstood little girl and her sister, Beezus, as being an over-controlling stereotypical "big" sister. Thirty years later, I see Ramona as being an absolute PILL and Beezus as being a GODSEND child.
Kind. Helpful. Controlled. Disciplined. Mature beyond her years.
The best part of reading these books to the children is that we have our own little discussion sessions following each chapter. Why do you think Ramona did that? What do you think she was feeling that caused her to act out that way? How would you respond to it? I love to hear the children's responses that suggest Ramona is a high energy spirit who just needs a lot of love and understanding.
And Beezus, well ... Beezus is a rock.
As it turns out, I have been blessed with two children who are a stereotypical Ramona. Their names are ELIZABETH and HENRY.
I have also been blessed with two children who are a stereotypical Beezus. Their names are WILLIAM and CAROLYN.
I hesitate identifying our children in such a way, but the resemblance is uncanny. While I've been pondering the behavioral similarities among our children to these two characters - I haven't actually said anything about it. Until earlier this week, when I overheard Carolyn whisper to William, "Is it just me, or do the two of them remind you of Ramona? Henry acts just like her and Elizabeth looks like her, too!"
I rushed over to them and gushed, "I KNOW! I KNOW!!!" And we hugged and it was a moment. A good, good moment. It was also an important moment, because later in the week when Henry was doing something to drive William crazy and Elizabeth was doing something to drive Carolyn crazy, I just smiled at them and said "BE A BEEZUS" and that crazy moment was diffused.
Be a Beezus.
In our home, those have become words to live by.