Bingeing on storytime becoming a weekend ritual

Bingeing on storytime becoming a weekend ritual

If there’s one thing I truly love, it’s reading aloud the work of the late, exceptionally great Theodor Geisel — also known as Dr. Seuss. Twentyish years ago when our house was filled with young audience members, I made a nightly challenge of twisting my tongue all the way to the end of the Seuss classic “Fox in Socks.”

I can still recite many entire stanzas from memory, and I’d be willing to bet that given enough time I could dredge the entire book up, piece by piece from the depths of memory. The fact that I’ve got a fledgling audience waiting in the wings provides an added incentive.

Story time at our house, for as much as it was loved, was also a time rife with challenges for a few years as our firstborn, Charlotte, worked to prove her personality. It was all fun and games at first, of course, with joyful first-time parents indulging the little angel in the very thing each of us had most enjoyed as children.

The thing with Charlotte, however, was that no quantity of reading (or play, or attention) was ever enough. She knew all the tricks, possessed all the charms and pressed all the buttons to keep the machine running far beyond a reasonable bedtime story. Ten minutes, then twenty, then a full half-hour. Before long each evening was ending with an hour and a half spent at bedside reading, re-reading and reading some more of the children’s book choice du jour.

Kristin and I each accused the other of buckling to the literary whims of the tiny master. Alone we stood powerless against her demands, but finally, working together we drew a line in the sand, dug in our heels and left her in her room after a mere 45-minute good night process. The change was not well received, and the echoes of her angry screams still rattle through the rafters and shake the windows on certain windy nights. “I WANT MORE STORIES!!!!!”

It was tough love but necessary as we eventually had other children to attend to and more story time monologues to deliver. Years later, we realized that the whole episode was early evidence of her deep desire to be in charge. It was more about telling us what to do than listening to our silly stories — a reality we readily admitted after watching her march off a plane in command of her Army Company.

The world has turned full circle. Our grandson, James, now plays the role of the darling firstborn to a pair of first-time parents and every button is being pushed. Kristin and I, while older and wiser are nevertheless powerless against the boy’s charms and happily indulge in extended bedtime readings, the full-length “Fox in Socks” and all. Then we return to our home for the week and let Little Miss Captain Bossy Pants deal with it.

Sometimes we laugh the whole way home!

Kristin and John would love to hear from you. Write: Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627 or email John at