Stretch

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This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.

We’re nearing the end of my thirty-one day commitment to find the beauty in board books, and I’m unsure of what to write. This is not due to a lack of excellent children’s literature, but rather to an inspirational well that is starting to feel a bit dry. Desperate, I ask Katie what her favorite book is. She doesn’t hesitate.

“The doggy one, Mommy!”

(This is not an uncommon way of referring to books around here; she finds one salient feature or character, and that book is henceforth known by that moniker, always and forever).

“Which one is that, sweetheart? Can you go get it and show it to me?”

She runs into her room and comes back with one of the titles from our most recent library run: Stretch by Doreen Cronin. It isn’t the cleverest book in the house, nor is it the best illustrated, nor the most read. Jonathan, after reading it to her in bed the other night, remarked that it’s rather boring (especially lying in bed, when stretching is a bit harder to do). And yet, this was the one she brought me. It’s the one she’s requested before nap and bed time the past few days, and it’s the one she pages through as I run.

I asked her the same question last week and got a different answer – last week, the “llama one” was her favorite. (Unfortunately for me, I’d already written about that book, and so could not use it as blog fodder).

She’s two. Changing her mind (or, perhaps more accurately, not knowing her mind) is what she does. She changes her mind between the time I begin making her lunch and the time I finish it. She changes her mind halfway through a book, when she loses interest and asks for another. She changes her mind as we build with blocks, asking for a park and then a barn and then a house. (Other times, she’s singularly focused. Insanely singularly focused. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

She changes her mind all the time.

Still, our conversation got me thinking about preference, about the choices we make, about the things and the people and relationships we favor. The “doggy book” is the one that’s been most in front of her lately – it’s on the floor of her room, next to the bed. She sees it as she climbs up past the toddler guard rail, as we tuck her in, as she’s thinking about which book she wants to read before going to sleep, and so it’s an easy, almost automatic request. Last week, the “llama book” was fresh in her memory. It was one she’d talked about with Daddy, one we’d made a special trip to the library for.

She chooses her “favorites” based primarily on her most recent interactions. Her preference centers more on what is present and available to her and less on inherent value or specific traits that might draw her attention.

Which leaves me wondering: how often do I do the same?

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This Thing Called Life

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