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Reading Dad his bedtime story

Submitted by on Monday, 22 February 2010 No Comment

Big Guy came home excited after library day at school a few weeks ago – not that he isn’t usually excited, because the library is like shopping, only everything is free.

This time, though, he’d scored a book about Houston Rockets star (when he isn’t injured) Yao Ming. “He’s not on the Lakers. I couldn’t find any Lakers books,” Big Guy explained, a bit sadly. “But I think Daddy still will like it. Yao Ming’s in the NBA, right?”

Yes, he is, babes. And Daddy will love the book, just as he’s loved everything he’s heard you and Boots read over the past couple of weeks.

It’s the parent-reads-to-child bedtime tradition with a twist, but it’s a twist that makes sense with our current living arrangement that has Dad across the country, waiting to leave for Afghanistan.

I can tell Dad how much Big Guy’s reading has improved. I can mention that Boots can recognize many words now and helps read his own books. But there’s nothing like being able to hear it for himself. Thank God for unlimited long distance.

So that night, as three of us curled up under the covers we dutifully dialed Dad’s number. When he answered, Big Guy announced that the night’s selection would be about basketball.

Dad did a good job at keeping his sigh of relief from being audible. Big Guy might love the impish Junie B. Jones book, but it’s not exactly his father’s favorite material.

Not that Dad’s terribly picky about it. As long as he has his little boys’ voices to lull him to sleep at night, he doesn’t care if they read him a soup label.

The temporary tradition started one night, in fact, when Dad called because he was having trouble getting to sleep. “Read me a bedtime story,” he joked. “You never read me a bedtime story.”

“OK,” I said, pushing the button to activate the speaker phone. “You’re on, Big Guy.”

“What?” he blinked.

“Read to Daddy. You’re going to read him his bedtime story.”

He grinned broadly and went back to his book.

The Yao Ming volume was more challenging and not just because it was at a higher reading level than Junie B. The basketball book was dotted with pictures, which meant Dad had no idea what we were seeing when we cooed over what a cute little baby Yao was. Yes, we have a Web cam, but Dad doesn’t have Net access in his barracks.

Besides, Web cam would ruin it because the guys would be too busy concentrating on the “performance” rather than simply doing what we’ve always done in a way that lets Dad share it.

Ultimately, when he arrives in Afghanistan the time difference will force us to record audio and email it the next morning. For now, though, we’re all snug in our covers in an telecommuting version of that ancient family ritual.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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