Monday, April 14, 2008

Why hasn't anyone been murdered yet?

My parents were in town this weekend. The boys spent most of their time trying to get Grandma & Pa to put their books down & play with them, which they were perfectly willing to do. This meant that I could read a book in relative peace. 

I read Excellent Women by Barbara Pym in one day. It was glorious. Then, later in the evening I discussed the book with my family. It was a good read. Lots of detail, well drawn characters, with that cozy British village feel.  But nobody died & I found that very disconcerting. I have been reading a lot of mysteries lately & forgot this was just fiction. I read the first couple chapters with an eye toward guessing who the victim would be and speculating on possible motives by various other characters for doing away with this person or that person. But nobody was murdered. I was 6 chapters into the book wondering when the hell a body would turn up before I remembered this was not a cozy village mystery but a straight story. It left me feeling the book was a bit off. There was plenty of scope in the story for a murder, possibly even 2 or 3  (to ensure the murder's safety), lots of motives and some people who certainly could be believably driven to it. The main character was one of those 'excellent women' of village fiction, a spinster who just seems to get involved in people's live. Still, everyone persisted in remaining alive throughout the whole book. I liked the book, I was just slightly perturbed by it, but I think that was entirely my fault.  I'm going to have to read it again when I am not on a cozy mystery spree.

After I had this discussion it occurred to me what I had said. "I have been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately." In other words - I HAVE HAD TIME TO READ LATELY!!!! and I didn't even realized it. I am an avid reader. I am the child of avid readers. When we get together with my parents, once the kids are in bed there is a 90% chance we will all sit around reading. Or talking about what we are reading.

I had time to read when Havoc was a baby. I could read when he was sleeping or nursing or playing happily in his bouncer or the floor. Then he started crawling and had to be watched, then he was cruising, then walking, then Mayhem was born and it started all over, only without the 'time to read while he was a baby' part because I also had a toddler.  I still had some time here & there, but there were other things I wanted to do with that time & working out how to spend it was tricky.  There was little money to buy books, having lost my income & gained two dependants.  My sanity was not up to taking a couple of toddlers to the library very often. (I find regulating my children's public behavior to be the most stressful part of parenting toddlers & preschoolers). I reread my existing books & occasionally bought a new one. But where once I would sit down & devour my new purchases in a few days, now a week could pass before I opened one book.

Some time in past 6 months or so something changed. The demons grew. They needed less supervision & were capable of longish periods of play that didn't involve me. Mayhem started school 3 days a week and I could go into a bookstore or a library and actually BROWSE childfree.  Their behavior, individually, has improved to where I am not on constant high alert. (together they are still demons). I have new books in the house and I have time to read them. Every day almost I have at least an hour after dinner to myself. Most days I can grab a few 15-30 minute stretches to read. I have to do it standing up at the kitchen counter in order to not be immediately climbed all over, but that is a small price to pay.  My to be read pile on my nightstand has 9 books in it, there are 5 waiting to be taken back to the library that I have finished. I have regularly been checking out and actually READING several books a week.

I read to the boys regularly & I am so looking forward to them being able to read. Havoc can read small words with short vowel sounds. We went to the library & checked him out some books specifically geared to that. I loved going to the library as a child. I loved having a stack of new to me books waiting to be read. I loved sitting around with my parents in the evening, everyone reading or talking about what they were reading. I cannot wait for my kids to be there & I really hope they want to. I think I would count that my big failure as a parent if my kids don't love to read like I do.

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