Thursday, September 23, 2010

A new read

(Warning: Narnia spoilers in this post!)

Years ago Hans and I purchased a copy of The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. I had some knowledge of this C.S. Lewis classic but had never read it. It sat on our bookshelves until a few months ago when I read a few chapters in "The Magician's Nephew" (the first book in the series) to Jack. He thought it was too scary and we put it aside "until I am 5."

It became a joke between us; when selecting a book at bedtime I would sometimes offer Narnia and he would laugh and remind me he was not yet 5. Jack's birthday is months away and I'm bored with Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Dragons of Blueland and Winnie the Pooh. In fact very especially bored with Winnie the Pooh; I'm so jaded that "the Enchanted Place" no longer has the power to make me cry. So when Hans went out of the town for the weekend recently and I had bedtime duty 3 nights in a row, I bribed Jack into reading Narnia. I offered him 5 extra minutes of Toki Tori play time for each chapter of Narnia. He went for it!

At first he complained about how much he didn't like it; that he was only listening for Toki Tori time. But then we drew near the end of "Magician's Nephew" and a curious thing happened. He started asking questions about the story. "Why is Jadis so evil?" "Why did eating the apple make her pale?" "How did Aslan die and come back to life?" And more. This is the first book we've ever read together to prompt so much thought and discourse. I'm not even sure how to answer most of the the questions, but we talk about it together and it's been a rich conversation. Sometime we will sit and read a few chapters in the middle of the day without any talk of Toki Tori time. And Aslan has been popping up in Jack's roller coaster drawings, which is a compliment of the highest order.

We've now finished the first book and started "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." Narnia continues to prompt conversations and enchant both of us. I love the wry humor and Lewis's lovely descriptive writing. The queen is super scary! And Aslan is so powerful! I think I've found the children's book for me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New beginnings

Jack started his new preschool this past week. It's a very small SF school which provides specialized support to kids who need help with social skills, speech, and physical issues. We supplement this afternoon program with a 2 morning a week SFUSD language and learning program.

Our new schedule means we spend a good deal of time in the car, and Jack's days are longer than he is used to. He has been tired at the end of each day, but happy. In fact, he reported "I have a friend," a girl he's been playing with at language and learning.

Yesterday Jack and I were talking casually and he said, "that was back when I didn't like myself." My heart froze for a moment as I tried and failed to rewind what he had said just before that. He didn't want to talk about that time, of not liking himself; it seemed to be something he has worked through and so does not need to be discussed further. We believe this summer was a detox for him -- whatever happened in his previous preschool was not good, and now he's better, to our immense relief.

One more thing. He doesn't pretend to be other people anymore. He's just Jack. Just the way we love him.