When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the summer reading programs. I signed up for the library’s, for Pizza Hut’s, for Fazoli’s, and for our local bookstore’s program. I’m sure there were others, but these are the main programs I remember.
I remember my mom waking me up in the morning each summer and saying, “Today is the day we sign up for the summer reading program at….” I remember that she kept track so well, she knew which date each program started. I remember proudly filling in my little charts and collecting my free personal pizza, free book, passes to the local ice skating rink or pool. I remember walking in with my brother and proudly presenting our charts.
Last week we went to the library, like we do every week, and they signed us up for the toddler’s version of the summer reading program. I didn’t even know they had a program for toddlers. There are all kinds of tasks on it and they aren’t all book-related but they’re all there to promote early literacy.
Somehow, it ended up being a really emotional event for me. I didn’t want kids for a really long time. I didn’t want any, didn’t want any, didn’t want any, suddenly ached for one. I certainly pictured certain images in my head—playing in the yard, pointing out a moose while traveling, a sweet off-key little voice singing in a church Christmas program—but the summer reading program isn’t something I really thought about.
Now it’s a pretty amazing thing, realizing that I get to re-experience all of my favorite parts of childhood. The summer reading program. The moment you step into the living room and see that Oh, yes, Santa was here. The first barefoot day of summer, the first crush. The whirlwind first love that turns out to be nothing compared to what lies ahead, stocking the refrigerator of your first apartment, touring the campus of the college you’re about to spend a lot of time at. If I’m lucky, finding out that Scabbers was really Peter Pettigrew or that Bruce Willis was in fact dead the whole time.
It’s everything I never even knew that I always wanted. All the best pieces of life, all over again. Wow.