The Zoey Blog: Sleeping to Dream... FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sleeping to Dream...

“Around the brave Tiger Lily were a dozen of her stoutest warriors, and they suddenly saw the perfidious pirates bearing down upon them.” James Matthew Barrie - “Peter Pan" It's become my most favorite thing, perhaps only just barely ahead of drawing with her, or just a smidgen above practicing writing our numbers, as we did tonight on a giant leather recliner in a rented apartment, but reading to Zoey each and almost every night has become something that confronts my awful urges to do anything else. Sure, there are times when I linger in my place, and let June tackle the task of bathing her and setting her off to bed, and in those moments I tell myself that I must surely need the break, otherwise I would have jumped at the chore, but on most occasions it's an unexpected pleasure to simply tuck her in and read. We've graduated to chapter books at bedtime, of course, mixed in with the usual picture books that she so loves, but we have started reading novels and stories intended for a much older audience, if only to stir her imagination on one hand, and bore her to sleep on the other. On good nights she can hang on for entire chapters, on exhausted nights she is often snoring after three pages. We try to tell ourselves that it's a brilliant bedtime technique, which it so far seems to be, but we both know, in truth, that this is for Daddy...that her Dad loves these moments. He alters the tempo and tone, he attempts imitating voices and then hesitates before stepping headlong into those frightfully dramatic pauses that make any story an incredible story. He sometimes stops to explain, or changes the words so that she might better understand, but mostly he just reads what's written, and reads it excitedly, as he would want to hear it, surely as it was meant to be read aloud. Pirates require dastardly and ominous tones, while fairies demand a brightness that most men can barely imagine reaching deep down inside for, but still he manages both, and is in love with the idea of trying. He often reads long after she's fallen asleep, and laughs to himself when he trips on something worth the laughter. Perhaps it's the deep thickness of his voice, or the enthusiasm with which he extends himself, but Zoey falls asleep every time, quickly, and without incident. The words are like a magic potion that sets her to dreaming, and this makes him proud, and Mom curious. I think that perhaps it's both of these things, his voice and his enthusiasm, but with certainty it's the love. You can rest confidently knowing that his daughter drifts off to sleep not because of the tales or the tone, no, but because of the reassuring warmth of the love. Like Florida humidity, it soaks the air around her and she is ushered safely to that most vulnerable place, sleep. It sounds romantic, or perhaps dramatic, to say the very least, but it's neither. The truth is that millions of children have fallen asleep to these words, with these same dreams, and he has read to none of them. Twenty generations of boys and girls have drifted off to Neverland with those images that J.M. Barrie scribbled to a page. This is nothing new, nothing unique, but it is to him, and because of that he does it almost every night, and because of that it is this simple beautiful thing that he might someday miss the most. He reads words that she can't possibly understand, but knows that if she never hears them she can't possibly conceive of their existence, let alone begin to comprehend them. He uses the same logic with the kids that he works with every day, "if you don't dream it, it can't happen," and it is such a truth that you can set your watch by it. What is good enough to practice with her is good enough to practice with other people's most precious resources, so he practices the same philosophies at his daughters bedside as he does with his work's responsibilities. It doesn't exist until you make it exist, so he reads the big words, and only sometimes changes them. Words like perfidious he reads aloud, and then waits for her to ask him for the definition. He very often doesn't know, and so another life lesson is embraced. They look it up together, neither quite knowing what it means or what to expect, and they settle back into the story happy with the effort, and just one word smarter. So, like tonight, he lingers, this time to type on the floor beside her bed. He can hear her sleeping and knows that it was he who sent her there, and if there's one hiring he loves about this Dad business it's being the one that makes it okay to dream.


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