New light

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For the second time this week, my daughter voluntarily decided she was not sleeping in our bed and took herself off into her own, temporary bedroom, allowing us to get a decent night’s sleep without our being awoken by a kick in the head or covers being aggressively kicked off us all by a sleeping, thrashing child. It’s understandable that she has switched to wanting to be with us – it’s a big house and she doesn’t like “being alone,” she’s had an enormous amount of change and so wants our reassurance – and the bedroom she is currently in is pretty unsatisfactory. We really need to get with the programme on that and tackle the room that is to be hers, as much as neither of us can really face what’s ahead, there. It’s not really a surprise that she doesn’t want to sleep in her tiny temporary room. For a while, she also wanted the adventure of “choosing” which room she wanted to spend the night camping/ sleeping in and was just as excited to announce which bedroom she was to sleep in as choosing who was going to be that evening’s Super Reader. Despite being bone-tired and worried that in a couple of months eviction from our room is going to be forced upon her, anyway, we’ve decided not to push it and trust that, in time, she’ll start to make her way out of our room again. And so it appears to be coming to pass.

One of the things about her playing musical bedrooms is that her bedtime books have ended up in different rooms – and every time you visit one, there’s a treasure trove of forgotten books to rediscover. Last night, in her room, she rediscovered Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I haven’t read that book with her for perhaps 18 months or even more. Long-time readers of this blog may recall it was once a firm favourite. I really love it. It was such a joy to open the cover again, to see the pictures and text I know so well with fresh eyes – and to realise that my daughter claimed to not remember it at all. How true this was I don’t know, as she managed to trot out a lot of the rhymes and know exactly where to look in the pictures. What surprised me was how the pictures and text transported me to some lovely memories. Straightaway, I remembered being in the lovely bookstore in my old neighbourhood (do check them out if you are nearby or in the area – it’s such a lovely store), the friendly assistant who suggested Each Peach Pear Plum, and the monkey in her stroller, kicking her legs next to me, not even yet a toddler, as I bought that and a few other of her suggestions. I miss the lack of an independent bookstore in our town. I’m with Neil Gaiman: “What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.” ~ American Gods.

Next, in my memory, I was sitting on the floor of the monkey’s lovely old bedroom, with its gorgeous caramel wool carpet and Easter-yellow walls, reading Each Peach as the monkey played next to me and finally, possibly one of the first times we read together, monkey on my lap as we sat in our bright living room, summer sunshine lighting the pages of the book and the dark hair on monkey’s head.

Favourite books are like music and art – they seal the moments in time they shared with you in the memory, to be unlocked the next time you visit them. What a gift to have those moments again, so unexpectedly and with such clarity, and to add to them again with these new, fresh snatches of time, where you see, hear and feel new light through those old windows. This week, I’m going to encourage monkey away from her staple diet of Slinky Malinki and friends and back to some old friends we haven’t seen in a while and I may just do the same thing myself. Have a great week.

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