“What’s your book about?” the little boy asked me curiously. He looked to be around six or seven.
“Oh. Anne Boleyn. She was a Queen before her husband, the King, had her beheaded,” I answered kindly.
“What’s beheaded?” the boy wondered.
“When your head is chopped off.” As soon as the words escaped my lips, I knew I had said the wrong thing. The little boy’s eyes grew huge and then he ran off towards his parents. I watched as he flung his arms around his mother’s neck and whispered something into her ear. Then she turned and glared at me.
I am not good with children.
I admit that.
I mean, most people would know that it’s not good form to talk about heads being removed from a body. But I didn’t. I tend to speak to children like they’re adults and I forget that there are some things that I might want to omit.
See, I was at Reading/Pajama Night at my son Tommy’s school. It was a night to get kids excited about books and reading, you see. We were all scattered around the auditorium with our books. The paper that Tommy came home with had said that you could bring whatever book you wanted. So I brought my Anne Boleyn one. Of course when I got to the school I realized that most of the adults were reading children’s books.
Well, I’m sorry. I was excited over the prospect of reading in peace for a few minutes. I don’t get the chance to do it much at home. The second I crack open a book my daughter takes it from me and says, “No.” Then she drags me onto the floor where I’m forced to play with her creepy Yo Gabba Gabba toys.
“You can borrow one of my books,” Tommy offered. I think he was a little embarrassed that I was the only parent flipping through a giant book while the others were browsing colorful books for children. He was also on edge because we were supposed to bring a blanket to sit on.
I brought a towel.
He was mortified when he saw other families fluff out their blankets.
“You see? They have a blanket!” Tommy moaned, pointing.
Then another family would roll out a blanket.
“And so do they,” Tommy added. Then he started counting the families with the blankets. “They have one, so do they, and them, and—”
“I get it, Tommy. You wanted a blanket. I thought a towel would suffice,” I cut in.
“It doesn’t!” Tommy griped.
“Well, then you’ll have a lot to discuss with your therapist won’t you? You can talk about how your mother didn’t bring a blanket on reading night,” I said.
“I will,” Tommy confirmed even though he doesn’t even know what a therapist is.
So yes. He was already unhappy with me and then I go talking about rolling heads. When he offered me a book, I figured I ought to take it.
“What do you have?” I asked, shutting my Anne Boleyn book.
“Oh, The Things You Can Think and McElligot’s Pool,” Tommy said grandly.
I swallowed back my groan. They were both Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Seuss books give me a headache.
I eventually took Oh, The Things You Can Think. I really wasn’t reading the words though. I was thinking, “Is this thing almost over?”
I mean, what is going on here?
My eyes eventually started to wander to other people. I counted two women with Kate Gosselin’s old hairstyle (!), four teenagers with Twilight books (blech), and eight children picking their nose.
Then I took a picture of Tommy. He was not amused.
“Why, Mommy? Why?” he whined.
The reading seemed to go on forever. I wanted to read my Anne Boleyn book, dammit. Look, I’m all for having an imagination but I think Dr. Seuss went overboard. Surely he had to have been drunk when he wrote his books.
Finally we could stop reading and Tommy’s class went up to perform songs from Seussical The Musical.
He was a water boy.
He was the best water boy up there, I tell you.
When he was finished, we headed for the exit to go home. On our way out I heard a tiny voice say, “That’s her! The Mom who reads books about people with no heads!”
Tommy gave me a Look.
Now he’s going to be the kid whose Mom reads about people with no heads.
“Er...how about some ice cream when we get home?” I suggested.