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I have talked a lot about my love of books. I’ve grown up with them. I keep them. I treasure them. They’re like my favorite food. Bookstores are the refuge of my soul, my best escape short of an island. The cottage has shelves and shelves of books, mostly unread. They sit there, patient little souls, waiting for their own moment in the sun.
I choose my books carefully. There are so very many that I would love to read. If only I could find a job that paid me wagonloads of money to read the books of my choice. As it is, I suppose I will have to wait for heaven, which, I am sure, is filled with books and puppies and beaches and horses and ….well, a few other wonderful things.
The book I’m reading now is the second in a series of historical mystery/adventures by William Dietrich. I adored the first one. It was one of those books you stay up too late reading, and fall asleep with the lights on, the book still poised in your hand. The kind you can’t wait to finish, but hate for it to end. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the next book. I can still remember when I found it in the grocery store when it came out – I practically shrieked with delight. I shook Kelsea. I hugged it to my bosom. I had to finish the book I was reading before I could start it.
And that last statement hints at The Reading Dilemma.
I did finish the book I was reading at the time. And I was delighted to start my new prize. I got about 20 pages into it…and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored. I couldn’t believe it, after all that anticipation. It just wasn’t grabbing me. I set it aside with the thought that I would take it on vacation — maybe I just wasn’t in the proper headspace to enjoy it. But vacation time came and went and I took along slightly skinnier, lighter fare.
Well, I finally picked it up again a couple of weeks ago. I started it. And it still isn’t holding me. But now, I’m determined. I’m going to finish it if it kills me. And that’s the Dilemma. I absolutely WILL NOT give up on a book once I’ve started it. No matter how bad it is, how boring it is, how confusing it is. So here I am, not really enjoying the book, just trying to get through it. It’s become work, not passion.
I don’t know why I don’t give myself permission not to finish a book I don’t like. Who do I think I am failing, betraying or otherwise letting down by doing so? I mean, no one would know about it but me. Perhaps it’s a tint of my stubborn streak. Or perhaps it’s a shadow of my feeling that everyone and everything has something good, worthwhile and valuable within it. Which is why I don’t give up on jobs or relationships even when they might not be the best things for me.
Interesting to think that my attitude towards books is just a reflection of my attitude towards life – and love.
Kelsea called from the mall with her friends the other night and wanted to go to a sleepover. All eight girls at the mall had spontaneously decided they wanted a sleepover, and one of the parents had agreed. I had never met the parents, much less the girl, and even though I know that Kelsea’s friends are all of good character, I said no. I wouldn’t want to impose on parents who I’d never met, and who had never met my daughter. Kelsea couldn’t tell me exactly where they lived. I just wasn’t comfortable. Pat agreed with me. So even though Kelsea called three times, and begged, and her friend Joy begged, I stuck by my guns, and nicely told her just to accept “no” as an answer.
Well, everyone else went. I picked Kelsea up at the mall a few minutes after they had all gone. And I felt conflicted. Was I being unreasonable? Overprotective? I had called her on my way to the mall and told her Joy could sleep over at our house, if they wanted, since that’s who she’d gone to the mall with, but it was too late – Joy had already gone with the group.
Kelsea wasn’t really mad – well, she was a little, but she was very reasonable. She didn’t want to discuss it much – she said she saw my point, and she felt that she had been wrong in not accepting “no” as the answer, since I generally say yes. And she felt bad that she hadn’t said “I love you” back to me when we hung up. But she said that things have changed since I was thirteen. Kids make plans at the spur of the moment and parents need to understand that.
Is that true? I can recall some spontaneous sleepovers when I had been at a friend’s house and we just wanted to keep hanging out, and my parents usually said yes. But large-scale, multi-girl sleepovers were heavily planned and much-anticipated events that usually coincided with a birthday. Not just a bunch of us at the mall after school.
Is it that we have shifted to such a real-time mentality that this IS the norm? Am I truly behind the times? I trust Kelsea and her judgement, but she is still my daughter, is still 13, and is still my responsibility. I just wonder when to let the leash out – or to let her off the leash.
Hmm. Any other parents of teenagers – or any teenagers! – feel free to chime in to help me figure this out. Thanks!