A couple of years ago, I wrote a parenting column for the Boston (US) Globe Sunday magazine. I enjoyed it because my kids supplied me with a variety of subjects and it gave me a way to write about things that mattered deeply to me. But, with the focus of this blog on living in England and the differences between the US and UK, I’ve written much less about my kids than in earlier years.
And then I did something even more stupid than when I, as a sleep-deprived mother of a colicky baby, rubbed diaper rash cream on my face, thinking it was face cream, and then proceeded to cover my entire face with it all the while sensing by its smell and texture that something wasn’t right but unable to identify what it was.
So last night I was lying on my daughter Meg’s bed, reading to her. Although she is nine and a little bookworm, she still likes me to read to her at night.
Our ritual is for me to read to Meg first, then for her to continue reading her book and for me to read my own book while she settles into sleep.
I was reading The Red Book, by Deborah Copaken Kogan, about four women Harvard graduates at their 20th college reunion. I was only mildly interested, wasn’t keeping all the people sufficiently straight in my mind, but was determined to finish it.
Meg’s book was about a girl and some ghosts. I’d already read her a chapter, when I realized that she hadn’t brushed her teeth. When she returned from the bathroom, I picked up the book and resumed reading to her. I’d read about three pages when I got to:
“‘My work wife, Mia, has already called her. Even before 9/11. And–here’s the real kicker–though I feel a little guilty about what happened, and was obviously worried what would happen if Mia found out, if I’m really being honest with myself, I don’t regret it. When I think about it, which of course I end up doing whenever that day is mentioned–I mean that’s my cross to bear, I guess, cheating on my wife on the one day of our generation’s lives that will go down in infamy.”
Cheating on my wife? I threw the book down. What the hell is going on with children’s literature! “This is SO INAPPROPRIATE,” I thundered to Meg.
“Mommy,” Meg said, “that’s your book.” She handed me a book with a ghost on the cover. “This one is mine.”