Friday, December 13, 2013

Being Rich

My youngest son and I have been, almost nightly, going upstairs about an hour before bed time, and reading together.

He is nine. He can and does read by himself. But he likes when I read to him and, sometimes, I like when he reads to me.

We have a hard time sticking to books. We tried Redwall, but he wasn't into it, despite my best English mouse accent. We did get through all of The Hobbit, over the course of a few years. Sometimes, he likes to read comics about Mario and Luigi from a book we found online; it was published some time in the 1980's and still bears the writing of a small boy who is probably my age now: "Please return, if found, to this address...please, please, please, please..."

Sometimes, we read choose-your-own-adventure books, also found online; also about Mario and Luigi. He always asks me which choice I want to make at the end of a chapter, but he always corrects me if I pick the wrong one, so we don't get a "game over" (he has been through them several times, each).

Henry Lerolle
For the past few nights, he has wanted to delve back into his old Curious George books, which is fine by me. We'll read three or four a night, changing the boilerplate opening to: "George was a good little monkey and always very curious, blah, blah, blah, blah..." (He cracks up every time.)

We lie under the covers, in my bedroom, and read for about a half hour, and then the book sort of drops and we talk. But sometimes, we don't talk. Sometimes, he cuddles up and we just spend time, silent. I'll pat him on the shoulder and he will look up at me and smile. He'll put his forehead up against mine and blink and we will both laugh at the cycloptic effect on our vision.

"You're a rich man," my dad would always say, with melancholically comic drama, every time he was at our house; when we were gathered in the living room among my bookshelves, the boys playing or just relaxing with us...

It is during those idle silences at reading time; during those silly exchanges; during the readings of mediocre, corporately-produced comics meant to garner profit from video game characters, that I realize he was right. I am a rich man, for sure.

Not that I would turn down being literally rich, too. But, if I had to choose...

Or, maybe I did choose, the way my dad did when he picked up a trumpet instead of a briefcase.

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