I used to hate reading you know. There was a time, when I couldn’t stand the sight of a book and everything that it entailed.
I only started reading when I moved to a new school in a new country and had absolutely no friends to speak of. I was 9, getting used to seeing monkeys everywhere and hearing accents I didn’t understand. I was traumatized. My parents noticed my loneliness and decided to buy me 2 books: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. After that I was hooked. I poured my loneliness into the printed word and forgot where I was, the conflict I was stuck in the middle of and even, the monkeys (I really don’t like them, and those creatures took a perverse pleasure in shucking mangoes at me).
This post isn’t about Nancy Drew or even, Harry Potter. It’s about my father.
My father is a prodigious reader who was born in a time when being a geek wasn’t so good. As a boy, my dad used to read a lot. It used to cause some problems because my grandfather (lovely man, I love him to death, but he didn’t get the point of books) would rather have his eldest son running around outside rough housing. He didn’t want his son sitting inside, getting chubby because of books. It was the 60s and there seemed to be a hint of uber-masculinity running around The Bahamas then (if that nonsense ever left is a surprise to me…)
My dad loved books so much that he wanted to become a teacher. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to but it didn’t stop his love of books. He continued to read and fine tuned his genre loves: he only reads books about war. I don’t get it. But it’s all he reads! Even now, my dad’s library is to be rivaled and his ability to devour WWII history books is ridiculous. He’s amazing.
It must have saddened him to realise that his 3 kids hated reading when they were little. He really tried to get us to read. Nothing worked till I was 9 though, and since then we have become 2 geeks in a pod, rushing to bookstores every time we go foreign. To go foreign is a phrase we use in The Bahamas when we visit another country. My sister never picked up on the book thing, but my brother has joined our side of book-dom and doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. So, in the end, I think my dad did a damn good job, giving us chances he didn’t and encouraging us to do and read exactly what we want.
Things are a bit tough now, he doesn’t have a job and being the oldest child, and one of 2 children in the family that have a job, financially things really do suck. But it’s all worth it in the end, to see my dad on his rocking chair with his new Christmas book, lost in some Vietnam War tale. Or Cold War. Or some kind of War non-fiction thing. I gave up trying to figure that out.
I’ma post on my Momma soon.
My apologies for the overly-personal post. I just thing my parents, and sometimes parents or guardians or heroes in general, deserve some props.