Says Eldest, "Don't you think it's time you write one about what your children are doing?"
"What are my children doing?" says I.
"Well," she gestures toward her sister, "Mid's decided to make a dress and she's figured out how to sew it herself. . . . And Young is finally reading Harry Potter and he's on the 4th book already. . . . "
Which is a wonder, indeed.
We glance over towards the big brown chair in the other room where all we can see of YoungSon is two bare knees, the tousled top of his head, tips of his ears and the cover of The Goblet of Fire. Eldest and I have tried to get him to read these books for over a year. But YoungSon always listens most to his nearest sibling. Which is Middlest. Who read one Harry Potter and found him not to her liking. And says as much. Mildly usually, vehemently occasionally, but obviously always with sufficient persuasive power..
I even tried reading the first few Harry Potter chapters out loud to YoungSon, just to get him going . . . nyah . . . That is, until his dad said, "What? You haven't tried these books yet? "
Probably you need to know that Fritz reads textbooks for fun. And technical documentation the rest of the time. I can name every fiction book he's read since I've known him (except for a few picture books which he read patiently and repeatedly in the early years).
Fritz' fiction list as an adult reader:
1. Ivan Doig's The Sea Runners (which I gave him and made him read - "You'll like it. It's about Alaska. And kayaking. And it's true, really.")
2 through 8. The Harry Potter opus (which Eldest sat him down and made him read)
9. Surviving the Applewhites by Susan Tolan (which Middlest rechecked from the library especially for him and sat him down and made him read)
(and I suppose . . .
10. The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (if you're willing to stretch the definition of fiction to mean merely light reading)
11. Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond (if you're also willing to stretch the definition of light reading)
Not a fiction reader, Fritz.
But Fritz LOVed the Harry Potter series. When he gathered YoungSon on his knee with, "Oh, you've got to read these books. Here, bring the first one to me. I'll start you out . . . ," we had a feeling YoungSon's reluctance to dive into such big books - and so many - had met its match.
"Should we stop?" Fritz would ask at a critical juncture, every two pages into the story. By that time we had all gathered round to listen to him reading out loud - Fritz just has the Voice, no one can resist - even Middlest was drawn in.
"No, you can read some more," says YoungSon. "If you like."
It was like my own home version of The Princess Bride right there in the kitchen.
" . . . or you could write about the test scores I got on the ACT," finishes Eldest, bringing us back on topic.
"But wouldn't that be . . . like . . . bragging?" I ask.
"Well, if I said it, it would be," she admits. "But people expect parents to be that way."
"I see. What else?" I ask her.
"Well, we did go pick cherries for you."
"Yes, you did. And I'm grateful to you for it. Haven't I said so? I think repeatedly?"
"You have and you're welcome. But you could write about that."
"Or I could write about you throwing your jeans at me - how they landed on my head and flapped me right in the face."
"I didn't," she splutters, "At least . . . I was mad, but I thought it would land . . . away . . . And besides, Mom, I don't think that would be very interesting anyway."
"Well, I didn't think you'd actually aimed for me. Because I haven't forgotten you're related to me, you know. The whole hand-eye coordination thing."
"But like I said. Not so interesting, Mom."
"Hmm, maybe not."
"You could write how I'm learning how to drive stick-shift."
"Or how Mid and I are training for the STP with Dad in the next little while - " the STP being the 200 miles in one day on bike from Seattle to Portland and this the girls' first attempt to keep pace with that old veteran of the bike lanes, their dad.
"Have you seen my definition?" she shows me her leg, "Look at that."
I admire her calf-definition, which is impressive, and poke her thigh-muscle, which is indeed firm.
"You could write about the new song Mid is learning to play on the piano. It's really pretty."
"It is. Very pretty. And she's doing a really fine job learning it, isn't she?" Middlest glances up from the serious business of threading the sewing machine for the briefest glimmer of a grin.
"But," I say, "I don't really write about things like that. I mean, they're all nice but . . . I don't know . . . maybe a little too nice?"