Chapter 453 Mark Twain Would Be Proud — Tom and Huck

In case you’ve only recently stumbled upon this blog, I should introduce a few other people who figure prominently in my life. First, I should introduce my husband, who prefers on this blog to go by his nickname, Thoughtful Husband (he really is thoughful — I’m a lucky girl). Long-time readers know we have two sons. I refer to them as Tom and Huck on the blog. As of this re-posting, Tom is now 11 years old and Huck will turn 9 in a few short weeks. They continue to amaze me with their creativity, their sense of fun, and their hijinx with our triplet neighbors. Tom and Huck have so many mischievous adventures, I think Mark Twain would be proud that I’ve nicknamed them after two of his best-known characters. Here’s what they were up to when I started my business a little over two years ago.

Tom and Huck

I’ve mentioned before that I have two children, both boys, ages 9 and 7. For privacy purposes, when I’m blogging, I’ll call the older son Tom and the younger one Huck, after two other literary imps. They are good boys, but have a penchant for getting into what I think of as boyish mischief:

You might imagine that as I am a former English teacher and now a bookseller, my children must love books and reading. Ashamedly, I admit that nothing could be further from the truth. I am so envious of another bookseller’s darling photo of his young son comfortably ensconced in a tree reading Heinlein. Tom reads books, but only for homework or only if there is nothing else to do. Huck just started first grade two weeks ago, and can read books, but still struggles to read them independently. Despite frequent library visits, neither boy has yet found the book that creates the spark that becomes love of reading. We live in a part of the United States where the climate is sunny and mild, even in the winter, and the outdoors is the focus for the boys just about every waking moment. They spent most of their summer days not holed up in a corner reading, but instead doing things that scare their mother, like this:

and this:

and this:

climber2

They like to build their own games like this one, called “Wagon Train”, and play in the middle of the street with the neighbors every day (don’t worry — it’s a cul-de-sac and has little car traffic). Notice the shoeless, helmetless glee on their little faces as they realize that when the “puller” in the front stops, their wagons will all crash into each other and spill them on the cement: 🙂

wagontrain

They like to explore new things and reach new heights:

highplaces

For reasons unknown to me, they find such pursuits much more adventurous than sitting indoors reading. 😉 Now, I am about as girly a girl as they come. I love being a mom, baking, clean clothes, nice hair, and even clean fingernails. I much prefer indoors to out and find few pleasures greater than sticking my nose in a book whenever the opportunity presents itself. I sometimes think that my particular boys were born to me so I would get my nose out of my books and experience life. Still, I worry sometimes about my boys and their limited reading. They are certainly at the levels they should be, academically, but why don’t they have the passion for books that I do? Most importantly, will they ever have that passion? I’d hate to see them miss out on something that brings me so much pleasure and could do the same for them. However, perhaps they could say the same thing about me and their game, “Wagon Train”, which they’d like me to try, but which I’ve no desire to actually play.

However, as a former high school English teacher, I can say that those teenagers I knew who hated reading the most were the ones forced to read for a set amount of time every day at a very young age because their parents thought they should. This reading-because-you-should idea can, if not judiciously applied, take the joy of discovery out of reading. I try to remember that, if I keep books around (and in our house they are all around), eventually Tom and Huck will find the book that sparks the joy of reading. I am trying to remember to introduce books to, rather than to inflict books upon my kids. For me, the magic book that started the onslaught of reading that has yet to abate was in fifth grade. I was ten and read every copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series in a month. I even begged my parents to move from California to De Smet, South Dakota, where the real Laura grew up. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that I enjoyed reading about the hardships of pioneer life more than actually living them.

What book was it for you?

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