Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sweetpea Reads with Grandma

Every time Sweetpea was ready to go down for a nap or for the night, last week, we read a book or two together. Her favorite, at least for that week, was Over in the Meadow, which is a counting book, with a different family of origami animals featured on each page.

The first time I read the book to her, Sweetpea just listened to the words and, before we turned the page she would count the baby animals on the page. About half-way through that first reading, she started calling out the name of the animal family as soon as I turned the page, like this:

Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Frogs!
Grandma: Reads the verse
Sweetpea: Counts the baby animals

At her next bedtime, after counting the baby animals on one page, I happened to mention, “And ONE Mama.” She liked that, so the script was expanded:

Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Ducks!
Grandma: Reads the verse
Sweetpea: Counts the baby animals
Grandma: “And ONE Mama!”

She wouldn’t allow the page to be turned until every line had been spoken.

A day or two later, as we were working our way through the book once again, Sweetpea pointed to one of the baby birds and said, “Looks like paper.” I thought for a minute, and then realized she was aware that the animals were made of folded paper. “Yes,” I said, “It was made out of paper.” On each of the remaining pages, after naming the animals, reading the verse, counting the babies, and saying, “And ONE Mama,” these two new lines had to be spoken.

The next day, as we began reading the book, both Sweetpea and I forgot to perform the “Looks like paper” lines. Then, as we came to the fourth set of animals, Sweetpea, with a worried look, cried out, “No, Grandma! Paper!”

Not understanding what she meant, I looked at her with a puzzled expression. She took the book from my hands, flipped back to page one, and, stabbing her finger at one of the turtles, said, “Looks like paper!” To which I replied, “Yes. It was made out of paper.” Then on to page two and three, somewhat frantically making up the “Looks like paper” lines for each one. Then she relaxed, having righted the wrong, and we turned to the next page and continued:

Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Rats!

Over in the Meadow
In the reeds on the shore
Lived an old mother rat
And her little ratties four.
“Dive,” said the mother;
“We dive,” said the four.
So they dived and they burrowed
In the reeds on the shore.
Sweetpea: One, two, three, four!

Grandma: And ONE Mama.

Sweetpea: Looks like paper! (pointing at the mama rat)

Grandma: Yes. It was made out of paper.

What this taught me about Sweetpea:
She recognizes patterns
She loves repetition and familiarity
She likes to make, follow and enforce rules
She takes after her Grandpa, in that traditions are easily made, and must never be broken
She likes to stretch out the pre-nap book-reading time for as l-o-n-g as possible


Anonymous said...

What a smart little girl! I'm sure you've missed her
this week........Genie

Papa John said...

As I read this commentary, Linda, my eyes teared up as I remembered the same experiences you describe while reading with my young 'uns long ago.
Of course there were some differences: David wanted to "know" everything and tell me about each detail; Patty was morelike Sweetpea in establishing routines and looking for expected patterns; Geoffrey was more like trying to read to every element of a traveling circus while participating in the "Welcome Parade" as a performer.
Thank you for bring back some precious memories.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for sharing that precious story. It is sure to be a most special memory for the two of you. It was so much fun to read and "see" your week with three generations of you together.