The Reading

Here's the deal with my freaking out over Isobel's reading: I don't want her to be a performing monkey. She is the offspring of two performing monkeys; we lived for the applause as children. Especially Seymour, who still gets that extra-bright tone in his voice when he thinks he's the center of attention. As delicious as he is, this particular behavior is not so cute when you're 34.

There is a lot of projecting going on here, granted. But I am worried, worried, worried that Iz gets back flips and candy from observers just because she can read--people don't ASK her about what she's reading, or participate with her. And she stands there on her imaginary pedestal and eats it all up with a big googly grin. Meanwhile I am chasing Leelo around in the background or concocting something inedible for his lunch--I don't have time to be a proper guide, to explain what reading means.

I want her to read for the love of it, to go deep and come up gasping, to work hard for the epiphanies that blow her world off its axis, to immerse herself in alternate realities so vivid that she never really leaves them. I wish this understanding for everyone, really. Maybe then they'd leave me alone when I'm reading.

I don't want her to be like her dim mother, who was told she was smart for reciting book lists, was never was asked to discuss anything, read too much of what she thought she was supposed to read instead of what she loved, and finally cracked in her teens, falling under the spell of Stephen King and V.C. (shudder) Andrews. I am still recovering.

Maybe Iz doesn't need my help. Maybe she can figure this out on her own. But genetically, the showoff tendency is there, and I don't have time to track it down and stamp it out. So, think good thoughts for our girl and her wandering, rootless mind. And if you see her, ask her about the latest thing she's read. Don't just ask for its title.

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