Six

Six, too, is full of charms. One aspect of being a parent that I most longed to experience, from before I was pregnant, was living with a child old enough to read on her own.

I am now mother to such a child.

It is just as magical and mysterious as I expected. She goes to bed with The BFG and I come into her room at 8 to rouse her and she’s nearly done. What’s next? After reading just a little here and there all spring—Frog and Toad, Junie B. Jones, she has burst into reading the first classics of childhood. So far, this month, she has read The BFG, Half Magic, James and the Giant Peach, the first three books in the My Father’s Dragon series, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. She also read the first 125 pages of Gertrude Stein’s Ida.

She doesn’t much like to talk about her reading, much as I like to hear about it. Still, when I was remarking on this to someone, she asked “How much do you really think she understands?” A good question. So I pressed a little: “What is happening in James and the Giant Peach right now?”

“Well,” she said, “you’ve read it, right? [Yes, in 1972...] So they’re flying over the ocean, but it’s full of sharks who are going to eat the peach, so the silkworm and the spider make all these strings and then they send the earthworm up, but not too high, so that the seagulls will try to eat him. They’re trying to trick the gulls. But they have to be careful so that the gulls don’t eat the earthworm, so the grasshopper holds on tight and pulls him back just in time. Anyway, James takes the little strings and throws them up around the seagulls’ legs. He does this lots and lots of times till there are a whole bunch of seagulls pulling on the peach…”

I think she gets it, don’t you?

As for Ida, I must say, she got about 100 pages deeper than I, but she didn’t have anything to report.

I think she gets Stein, too.