As the boys are ready to snuggle down into their giant shared bed, with me in the middle, I remind them:
"Don't forget to pick out a book for me to read."
Oliver and Sami both make their way over to the crammed bookshelf. Oliver looks for 2.3 seconds and chooses an old favorite. Sami takes longer, looking for a book about submarines that I don't remember.
The boys finally take their place on either side of me, I draw the comforter up high and tuck it in under all our chins, for the house is chilly with November, then I begin to read. After just three words Oliver begins to get up. I stop him and ask:
"Don't you want me to read the book?"
"Yes," he replies. But I know I haven't asked the right question because "Yes" doesn't tell me what is on his mind.
Then he offers: "I want to go downstairs."
"Why?" I ask.
"Why." He repeats back.
So I help by getting him started: "I want to go downstairs and get. ..." I lead, even though I know I'm not supposed to lead him in this way.
But he finishes my sentence with: "A ball." Only I can't be sure if that is what he said because Ls are hard and I scratch my head trying to think of what he could mean.
Then he says: "Read the book." Ah, I think, he meant book, not ball. He was looking at a book about museums earlier and we left it by the couch.
"OK, sweetie. Go ahead and get the book but be quick. It's late."
And he is off and I hold my breath hoping that he doesn't get distracted once he is downstairs. Hoping that he remembers where the book is in the living room. Hoping that he comes right back upstairs so I don't have to call him. I hate calling him. I hear his feet on the steps. At eight he weighs eighty pounds and has never walked anywhere lightly. "Please," I pray silently to myself, "let him have the book." Let him have the book.
And then he rounds the corner into his room and I see he is holding a large blue ball. He carefully places it near the edge of his side of the bed and climbs back under the covers saying, "Read the book."