You had, of course, the bad nanny zone where they yakked on their phones ignoring their little ones, but quite a few were taking their responsibility seriously.
In one corner, a robust Latino lady was reading The Adventures of Peter Rabbit to a small group starring at her as if she were God. I meandered over to get a closer look. One kid in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt drooling all over Ralph’s insignia, kept turning the book to see the pictures. Atta boy, so what you’re only 3, next year you’ll be reading the Hardy Boys. Okay, not quite, but this is how you plant roots. It starts with a pop-up book followed by Dr. Suess with a Babar, Hello Kitty, Ferdinand the Bull chaser.
Besides love and understanding, it’s the greatest gift a parent can give a child. Looking back, if only I had a set who felt books mattered more than a cocktail shaker.
I have an indelible image of my mother sitting on a kitchen chair in a housecoat eating her half a sandwich for lunch (always half) with one hand, a trashy paperback in the other, its cover so bent back it would no longer close. I remember a title, Adelaide Unchained.
“Ma, is Adelaide a dog?”
“Never mind now, go play.”
My dad inhaled the Daily News while eating miniature Milky Ways he kept in the freezer, a Micky Spillane standing by. No wonder I didn’t start reading till I was thirty. Look at my role models. And then it was Vogue and an occasional Dominick Dunne.
How shocked to learn Moby Dick wasn’t pornography.
My heart opened watching these kids many cooing over their first book. Even when one tore a page out and tried to eat it did I approve. Yes, enthusiasm is what we’re after, even if it means a chapter’s missing.
When asked by Tony the grocer to do him the favor of filling an Easter basket for his 17-month-old granddaughter, along with the king-size chocolate rabbit and a horde of Peeps I tossed in a book, a little light reading called, Some Bunny Loves You.
In the front I wrote – This Book Belongs To Emma.
Wish I was there when she opened it.