“Wake up, Mommy!” my four year old son called to me last night during that witching hour between the end of dinner and the beginning of his bedtime ablutions.
“I said, ‘Wake up!’”
“I’m not asleep, baby.”
“Oh, I thought you were.”
I wasn’t asleep. That was the truth. But I wasn’t exactly awake either.
Instead I was curled over my iPhone, absentmindedly chewing on the nail of my left ring finger and checking my e-mail.
The intake: an update from BabyCenter (Subject: “Your 2-Year-Old: Nasty Habits”), a reminder about the new science-based play space in town, a note from my neighbor about the homeowners association’s annual tag sale.
You know, critical stuff.
There he was again.
“Can you read me this chapter?”
“Huh? Uh, yeah, just a second.”
Another e-mail. Oh good, my Amazon order shipped.
I moved on from my e-mail then. I had to check my Words With Friends games.
First game. “BODE” on Triple Word score with the B on a Triple Letter. 48 points. Nice.
Next one. Six vowels and a K. Hmm…
“What?” I said it more sharply. I was trying to figure out what to do with that K. I’d already told him to wait a minute.
“Will you read to me, Mommy?”
“Just a min-ute,” I barked, sharper still.
He walked away.
I turned back to my business. I never did find a good place for that K so I swiped over to Twitter, responded to a tweet about favorite books on writing (Annie Dillard, Stephen King, Anne Lamott), and followed a link to an article about assigning dog breeds for the leads in Downton Abbey.
I don’t even like dogs.
“Any new e-mails?” I silently wondered and checked the icon on my home screen.
Nope. Nothing pressing. Nothing important.
I looked at my son then, slouched on the couch with his book open and studying its pictures.
“What are you reading, buddy?”
He told me information I already knew: “I don’t know how to read. I need you to read to me.”
“Right. Well, what book did you choose?”
“Medieval Warfare,” he responded, flourishing the book he’d chosen at the library that morning. “I want to learn more about Swiss pikemen.”
Ahh. Now this was pressing. This was important.
“Scooch over, bud.” I lowered myself onto the couch next to him, swung my legs up beside his, and covered us both with the afghan that migrates from chair to couch across our living room. He rested his ankles on my shins and we got down to business.
I began, “The Swiss pikemen were well-trained and were known for their skill, bravery, and toughness. They sometimes offered their services for pay to armies across Europe.”
We looked then at the picture of the brightly festooned soldiers with their long, sharp spears marching in line up the side of an Alp. We noticed the feathers on their helmets and their lack of armor. We wondered how they would have felt standing their ground in the face of a charging knight on horseback.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Can we keep reading?”
And so we read on. Wide awake.