I don’t know what time you woke up this morning. I do know that as my eyes fluttered open at 6:30 to the sounds of your brothers’ voices coming through the monitor, you were sitting next to me in bed, reading a book. Have I told you lately how much I adore you?
Not too long ago you held a paperback book in your hands. “Mommy, I love this sound,” you said, bending the pages so they crackled, making them speak.
We decided recently that one of our favorite words is kokoshnik. We talked about the way the front end pops (ko-ko) and the back end sizzles (shhh…nik). Sometimes you will recite a word or a sentence over and over just to hear the way it knocks against the roof of your mouth or rolls to the front of your tongue. You count syllables and compare rhyming words. Yesterday — for fun and just because — you made a list of “H brother” words, separated into different categories: ch, th, wh, sh, etc. You wouldn’t let me help you, wanting to come up with the words all on your own. You were going to turn those words into a book, you said, and I have no doubt you will. My files are already filling with your books.
When your dad was a little boy, he would ball his hands into fists and smell them. It’s still a quirk of his, this movement so repetitive and quick that it’s become subconscious. You? You smell books. You smell a lot of other things too (you two share this keen olfactory sense that’s so foreign to me), but always you crack the spine of a book and bury your nose in those pages.
There’s something about the beauty of a book, isn’t there, in its tangibility and also in its inventiveness and its truths among fairy tales? In its subjectivity according to the perspective of its reader. The way lives and worlds are born in the space of words. The way we can come to the same book and take from it different interpretations. There’s something about the way letters connect to form words that string together sentences to build paragraphs that construct a story. And within that story, characters and places both real and make-believe that have the power to transport us. Reading is an escape but also a way to connect to something within us that we can’t necessarily name.
But I don’t have to tell you this, Mia. You already know.
If you’re on Instagram you know about Throwback Thursday (#tbt). Consider this my #tbt video: a 3-year-old Mia “reading”. (One of the books we read so much that she memorized it.) Also, she’s totally speaking Turkish.