I am an avid reader. Voracious, really. A whole new world opened up to me as a child once I learned how to read. I don’t think there is anything finer than a good story.
My mother used to read to me, when I was two. Probably younger, but my memory of it doesn’t go back farther than two. We had Dr. Seuss books, and we also had a book called “Are you my Mother?” by P.D. Eastman. Some of you may remember this book, or possibly still own it!
Now, you should know that my mom was no ordinary reader. Nope. She didn’t just rush through the pages in a monotone voice, she would READ with passion, excitement, and use different voice inflections for the different characters.
This was one of the books I picked every single day for her to read, but yet it was a book we could never finish. Nope. No matter how much I wanted to know if the baby bird found his mother, I was absolutely terrified when my mom got to a certain page and the SNORT appeared.
My mom enjoyed the SNORT. She lowered her voice, wheezed, and scared the beejeebers out of me with that SNORT voice. The last line on the page was, “Oh you are not my mother, you are a snort, I have to get out of here!” And when my mom read that part, she would have a really high pitched freaked out scary voice. So – is it any wonder that whenever we got to that page, I would S L A M the book shut, and would not let her read any more. My mom would always try to read the rest, she told me nothing happened to the bird, but I wouldn’t let her. This went on for years, I simply could NOT get past the page.
I should mention that I also had an overactive imagination, and so she had no idea of what I was thinking when she became the SNORT, and scared me silly.
When my parents were first married, we lived in Burnaby on Dow Street in some really ugly pink apartment buildings. We used to go for walks, and one of those walks took us past the back side of the store, Simpson Sears – now where Metrotown is located. At the back of that store, there was a long, long, long, (did I mention long?) skinny road that led down deep underground, and the end of it curved, so you couldn’t see where it went. That steep incline always scared me. I thought the boogeyman lived way down there, and I was always scared every time we walked past. I would cling on to my mom, and hide my face in her coat, casting surreptitious glances at that long, deep driveway that led to no-where, making sure nothing was coming out to get me.
So, in my brain, (remember, I was only two, and two year olds cannot reason – all they can do is be afraid of what their tiny little brains can make up), I was convinced that the SNORT my mom read about lived down that road. I was convinced! Every time she read to me and got to the scary SNORT part (and really, you should have heard her scary SNORT voice!) I immediately in my head pictured the driveway behind Simpson Sears.
This is why I couldn’t get past the SNORT page. My mom would always laugh at me, and try to show me the last page, but nope, I would again SLAM the book shut, and hide it, only to have her read it to me the next day. I’m sure my mom must have laughed with my dad, I remember her asking me to go get dad to read it to me, but I refused. He wouldn’t know the SNORT voice!
Believe it or not, my mom and I never once got through that book. I grew up, and we stopped reading together. We never reached the end. I never knew what happened to that poor little bird looking for his mother. Isn’t that crazy?!
This saga does have a happy ending though. Guess when I was finally able to read the end of the story? Well, you won’t be able to guess correctly, you won’t even be close, so I’m just going to have to reveal it.
The year was nineteen ninety-three, I was twenty-five years old, had been married one year, and decided that I wanted to have all the Dr. Seuss books (and related childhood books) for future children I might have. I signed up for Grolier, and the first set of books to arrive came with none other than “Are you my Mother!”
I was so excited, that I grabbed the book, and immediately started reading. And yes, of COURSE in my head I was reading in the same voices that my mom used to read to me. When I got to the SNORT page, I have to admit my tummy gave a lurch, and I had the weirdest sensation ever. I actually paused before I turned the page. I couldn’t believe the flashback memory it gave me – to being scared. How ridiculous – I was 25 years old! But nope, same feeling came flooding back.
This time though, I did not slam the book shut, I turned the page. And continued to the end. Oh my goodness! The SNORT was a good snort, it WAS a happy ending! I actually had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the end. Then I promptly re-read it through all over again, but this time I did not get the fear reflex. Unbelievable. I laughed, I cried, and I called my mom on the phone to tell her that I had FINALLY read to the end of the “Are you my Mother” book. She laughed, and when I explained about the driveway at Simpson Sears, and thought that was where the SNORT lived, she couldn’t believe it. You can’t explain that stuff when you are two years old.
When I became a mother, I happily read this story to my son, but he did not share or have any of the same phobias I had, and I was able to read it to him through to the very end. I have to admit I tried to do the SNORT voice just like my mom, I like to think I’ve done her proud, but it probably wasn’t as good.
I am so thankful for my mom and that she took time to read to me. She let me sit on her lap in the red rocking chair, and she snuggled with me. Thinking back, those were some of the best times we shared together, laughing, giggling, and cuddling, and me feeling so loved and secure. This was before I grew up a little, and really drove her crazy! Ha ha
This picture isn’t the exact chair we had, but pretty close! Ours was a deeper red, with a removable cushion.
Thanks mom, for reading to me, for giving me a passion for books, and showing me worlds where I could let my imagination soar. Thanks for being an awesome “SNORT!”
Here is the happy ending!
I still have “Are you my Mother” on my bookshelf today. It is a precious memory to me, and I will always cherish it.