You don’t get lush verdant landscapes without frequent downpours and I am delighted to report that this is one of those periods, at the end of the marathon, head between your knees gasping for breath, where everything around you seems heightened and beautiful.
Monkeyface and I have resumed reading and the day we did so was all the more special for it. The day before, I had walked out of London Bridge into a glorious, record-breaking spring morning and for reasons unknown immediately thought of my maternal grandfather. (Actually, I do. Someone had spoken to me about Kings Cross and that triggered my last memory of being there, running for the only rail-replacement train service on a Sunday of track-maintenance, that would carry me north and onto a 4 hour series of connections and buses.) I simultaneously felt the elation of a gorgeous, sunny morning that shouldn’t be alongside the melancholy ache of his absence. Grief can still strike long after someone has left and winds us with its swift arrival and its power. As I walked over the bridge, so unexpectedly strong was he in my memory that I felt he walked with me step-for-step. It was then that I decided to read Grandpa Green later that day with the Monkey and did so the next day.
It’s a lovely book, beautiful for children, its message of old-age and a long life lived that naturally goes over the head of my little one, as it does all of us until we or our lived ones draw nearer to it. It made me weep to read it and think of his undoing and wish he was here with us to meet the Monkey. We had lots of cuddles as we read it and there was a sense that she enjoyed reading together even more for the hiatus.
We read Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site to cheer me up. We had passed a local building site that evening and she told me the long arm of the crane was a ladder (it does in fact look like a ladder) and MF seems to like diggers and tractors and all things moving. So it seemed appropriate to explore this book and she really seemed to like it. I like it too, with its rhymes and softness. It’s a bit like a cuddle.
When we’d finished we read Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet and laughed together as she spotted ffff and told me that her last name began with ffff which cheered me up lots and lots after all of the shallow blubbing. Finally, she spotted x and told me “mummy, its a kiss.” My grandad would have loved her as dearly as he loved all of us.
Reading with your kids is like reading for yourself. Sometimes you dont feel like it and there are other things that need to be done. When inspiration strikes, you wonder why you ever stopped and the flame is relit within you.