Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tales in the Land of Counterpane...

I read to the Impossible Son at night. We go through books much more slowly than I did with the Impertinent Daughter. He goes to sleep, lulled by the sound of my voice, whereas she wanted very much to know how the chapter ended, and often would beg for more.

I was like the Impossible Son, lulled to sleep by the sound of my mother's or my Uncle James' voices, no matter how interested I was in the story.

This is why we are on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and taking our time through it. I feel like I'm letting him down, though. I've been reading to him since he was a baby, just like I did with Miss Priss, and by this time, Miss Priss and I had gotten through The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte's Web, Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, all the Harry Potter books that had been written up to 2004, all of the Narnia books, The Back of the North Wind, many, many fairy tales, The Black Arrow, The Secret Garden, The Light Princess, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach...

Whereas the Impossible Son and I have gotten through from Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone to The Half-Blood Prince.

I think we shall take a break from Harry Potter after we finish this one and maybe start on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a change of pace!

Tonight, however, I did something different. I told him a story, a story my mother used to read to me when I was very small, and the cadence of it entranced me so much... that I memorized it. It was the story of The Old Woman and the Pig, and I have told him this story before, as I have told it to his sister many, many times, and I always tell it a little different, though the cadence part remains the same. And as he listened to me go from, "Cat, cat, kill rat, rat won't gnaw rope, rope won't hang butcher, butcher won't kill ox, ox won't drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, pig won't jump over the sty, and I shan't get home tonight," to "The cat began to kill the rat, the rat began to gnaw the rope, the rope began to hang the butcher, the butcher began to kill the ox, the ox began to drink the water, the water began to quench the fire, the fire began to burn the stick, the stick began to beat the dog, the dog began to bite the pig, the pig began to jump the sty and she FINALLY got home..." he blinked and said, "It's like a song, isn't it?"

And I said, "Yes, yes, it is, it's very like a song!"

He said, "That's what helps you remember it all, right? Because it's like a song, it has a rhythm and a flow, and you tell it like a song, just... not singing it?"

"Yes, that's it exactly!" I said, very pleased. "A lot of the old fairy tales are like that. Like the Three Little Pigs tale, you know, little pig, little pig, let me in, not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin, then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in?"

"Yeah!" he said sleepily. "Just like that! Are there any more like that?"

"Oh, lots and lots," I said with a smile. "Want me to tell them to you?"

"Sure, but not now. For now, I just want to know what happens to Harry on his first day back at Hogwarts."

It's not like he hasn't seen the movies. But, he knows the books are different, and has learned to appreciate that.

Meanwhile, my head is filled with the stories and rhymes my mother and sisters and uncles and aunts read to me. And I can hear my mother softly saying...

Wind, wind, gently sway
Blow Curdken's hat away
Let him chase o'er field and wold
Till my locks of ruddy gold
Now astray and hanging down
Be combed and plaited in a crown...

*goes off to bed with visions of goose-girls, talking horses, ravens and swans flying, and glass mountains in her head*

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