I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that you are turning 14 tomorrow. 14 seems like such a big number. 14 means high school. 14 is only two years away from driving and four years away from college. I’m not sure that I’m ready. Nobody bothered to ask me if I was ready. Nobody asked if I was prepared. And yet, here it is.
You didn’t realize it, but last night we shared a moment. It was bedtime and I stopped by your door to check on you. You were reading.
“It’s time for bed,” I told you.
“I know,” you mumbled from behind your book. “Just a few more pages.”
You had told me earlier that evening all about the book you are reading. It was one of the many you had picked out when we went to Vroman’s in Pasadena. (Yes, there had been quite a large stack that I happily bought for you.) You talked about how much you liked it. I half listened, too occupied by my own thoughts to focus on the plot you were retelling, too busy thinking about how grateful I am that you are a reader.
You come by your reading excitement naturally. It’s part of your DNA. When I was busy making your body in my body, I read a total of nine novels. I got hooked on Oprah’s Book Club books reading one book for each month I was pregnant with you. It didn’t do it on purpose. That’s just the way it ended up working out. Honestly, I never felt well enough to do much more than read. I drank smoothies from Jamba Juice, ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, and read books. We quietly read together every day. Your were reading via osmosis. Reading by association.
I’ll always remember the moment you became a reader. Not when you learned how to read. That’s something totally different. I remember when you first fell into a book and didn’t want to come out. For Valentine’s Day that year, I bought you Diary of a Wimpy Kid. You ended up taking the book with us to one of Dad’s golf tournaments, finishing the whole book before the first round was even over. You devoured it the same way your little brother can devour an entire bag of Sun Chips. You loved every single bite. Thank goodness the next two books in the series had already been published because you could hardly wait to read more. Before you and your brother were born I made a strong parental declaration. There was one thing that I would never deny either of you: Books. We took you that next weekend to buy the next two Wimpy Kid books, which you ate up just as quickly as the first.
And then came Harry. I wasn’t surprised at all that you fell hard for Harry Potter. I just never imagined that you would read the whole series twice. Even though you’ve completed the series all the way through and back again, I could go into your room tomorrow and see that you’ve randomly started the fifth book again …just because. Dad and I feel weird having to tell you to stop reading Harry and pick up something different. And of course, because you’re a good kid who listens to your parents, you have. You’ve read many books in your 14 years and once you get into a book there’s no getting you out. “Did you fall in?” I’ll ask you when you get into the car after school and immediately get out the book to start reading. And you’ll just smile, say yes, and open the book.
Yes, I’m not at all surprised that you are a reader. I take all of the credit. However, Wimpy Kid creator, Jeff Kinney, and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame probably deserve some of the credit too. And don’t forget Oprah. Yes, Oprah deserves some credit too. But mostly me. This is one that I will proudly claim. You are my ravenous reader, my sweet 14 year old boy. Happy birthday. I pray you will be hungry for years to come.