Tuesday, June 24, 2014

And Then She Could Read

And Then Our Daughter Could Read

Duchess hops into my lap and hands me her single-word flash cards. I'd purchased the flashcards at Walmart over a year ago in one of those optimistic parent moments. You know those moments? They’re the ones where you’re walking around Walmart and you imagine your kid sitting in your lap, happily looking at flashcards and talking about how they want to be a doctor someday. They’re the ones where you close your eyes and see an exact picture of your child, older now and calmer, sitting in the shade of a cottonwood tree, reading “Of Mice and Men”. She gets to the end, “Tell me about the rabbits, George.” The air she is breathing gets trapped in her chest. She closes the book on her index finger and bites her lower lip to push the tears back in, then opens the book and looks back out over the vista with Lenny and George. 

“Cuh…ahh…t… Cat.” 

“That’s right! Good job!”

The smile that takes over her face when she realizes that letters make the sounds that make the words is bigger than her face itself. I am as surprised as she is. The flash cards have been sitting on the shelf since we bought them. Stevie and I have pulled them out a few times, but she never seemed very interested. Instead, she was interested in “Pete and Pickles” and “Are You My Mother” and “Star-Bellied-Sneeches” and “Room on the Broom” and “Skippyjon Jones” over and over and over and over again. I've never seen her mom say no to a book, and unless I have chicken in the skillet midway between raw and done, I can’t recall many times that I have said no either.


“Bag. Yes, that’s right!”

“I’m reading, daddy!”

Sometimes I close my eyes when I smile. This time I see her falling asleep in a bed we've yet to buy her. The light is still on – not because she is scared, or because she doesn't like the dark; the light is on because the evil wizard Randall Flagg is walking up the stairs of the tower to end Prince Peter. With each step he gets closer and with each step her eyelids sink. The unknown end is coming and she wants to push on. One more step. One more page. One half-sentence before her eyes close, fail to lift and she sleeps under a well-lit blanket of books, the wizard Flagg pressed against her chest, waiting for morning to come. My smile is a portal from my imagination to reality. I whisper good night. I turn the off her light. I open my eyes again. 

“You are reading! I’m so proud of you!”

She doesn't know the gate she’s just opened. She doesn't know that the world has just bloomed in a way that it has only done once before. The day we took her home from the hospital and carefully strapped her into her tiny car seat, while driving half the speed limit on back roads to avoid any sudden movements, I looked out over the Salt Lake Valley and said to Stevie, “The last nine months her world was inside you. For the last three days her world has been our hospital room. Her world just got infinitely bigger, and she doesn't even know it yet.” Stevie nodded in agreement and we cautiously drove her home to her freshly painted room that had already been filled with beautiful books. 

“Bih…ih..guh…  Big!”

“That’s right. Big. Very, very big.”

Thanks for reading my blog! If you would like to see more of the words I write, I also pretend to know what I am doing on Facebook and Twitter. Come find me there. Or stay here. Or both. Just don't leave me... ever. I just made it weird, didn't I? LOVE ME!  


  1. "Eyes of the Dragon"?

  2. Okay, how old is Duchess again? Just making sure I'm keeping up with the Kinnears. ;)

    1. She's almost four, and worry not. We still have a long ways to go before she's reading Faulkner ;)

  3. I am so passionate about reading. It was a favorite childhood pastime. My two-year-old loves being read to, and is starting to be interested in letters and letter sounds. It is so exciting to watch and be a involved in that process. This post was so touching to me! Thank you.

  4. This is on the verge of happening in my house too!! It is MAGIC! My son sounds letters out, and stores away whole words in his memory and then recognises them in other books, and can write words and make them with his letter puzzle, but I am just waiting for that last piece of the puzzle where he can sound out *new* words and then read them. So exciting!!

    1. It is so fun to watch them and think about all the adventures they are going to have. Words are joy. Simple as that.

  5. Delurking to say that was just beautiful. And, the "Eyes of the Dragon" reference? Just instantly flashed me back to doing that exact thing with that exact book in high school.

    Gotta go find that book.

  6. Dammit Kinnear, why do you get to be both funny and poetic?

  7. Beautiful. Reading with my kid is sometimes hilariously abrupt - he just turned one and often wanders off or chews on the book - but I still love it anyway.

  8. Hi mate,

    what a great blog! I've had a flick through and it's really good. :)


  9. Here's something that is really beyond me: why do people want dogs and kids? I mean, what exactly is the point?

  10. This is one of the best parts while raising kids. Reading with them is fun and sometimes hilarious. Great post John

  11. In case you don't want to wait until she's going for King, find a copy of Lindgrens' "The Brothers Lionheart" (ISBN is 91-29-40865-2) to get her started. Yes, it's labelled a children's book, but for that, it has plenty of dark topics inside. And even the happy end is rather bittersweet. Still, this book, among "The Hobbit" a few years later, got me hooked up to literature and fantasy in particular.
    It's in no way a typical children's book, as while it DOES have some bright and colorful moments, it does not shy away from things like death, oppression, fear or betrayal.
    But as you see, I am not able to write about this book in an objective way (it still makes me cry today), so take all of the above with a grain of salt. Rent it from a well sorted library, if in serious doubt. ;)

    In any case, if she's able to deal with something more mature than pink teddybears and yellow ponies, it could offer a lot to talk about with her. (Buy it, srsly!) ^^