Bedtime stories have always been important in our family, as instilling the practice of reading is important to me as a parent, and books are sometimes a good way to teach our values, but also - mostly - because it is such a good way to bond. I was, of course, a much better and more consistent reader with the Lone Star Girl than I have been with the Lone Star Baby, though. My mom says that kids are like waffles and you ought to be able to throw the first one out, but I think the first one often gets the best of you - your time not divided by other children, your job still probably smaller and less time consuming in those days of youth. Everything with the Lone Star Baby has been more catch as catch can for the most part. Her sister has seemed as close as breathing to me for so long, closer, and I struggle to provide the experiences that will keep the Lone Star Baby as close to me. With less time, it does not happen as automatically - it takes more conscious work on both our parts.
I remember when I stopped reading to the Lone Star Girl at night. She was eight and we had started reading the first Harry Potter book at bedtime and she was into it. It just took too long to read it in installments at bedtime, though, and she wanted free reign to read it on her own without having to wait until we were together at night. When it became her book instead of our book, our nightly bedtime reading together also ceased. It just happened like that.
I was surprised that the Lone Star Baby and I seemed to be reading together at bedtime past that age, even though we read less consistently, a night here and a night there. Still, until this summer, it had been quite awhile since we had read together at night and I had thought that we were done, too. I had started reading The Hobbit, I don't know when, and she had not been very interested and we had just sort of tapered off. Somehow we got started again, though, sometime after her birthday, and bit by bit we have kept at it in our inconsistent way. We finished The Hobbit last night and I think I will start a Christmas novel with her this week. She is ten and reading lots of YA dystopian fiction quite on her own, but I will try to hold on to our bedtime reading for a bit longer, I think. I will hold on to that time at night together to anchor us in each other for the years ahead.