I’m on a literary high at the moment. As the school year winds down and the balmy days of summer arrive, I can think of nothing more I want to do this summer than read. I believe this addiction to books may have something to do with the past nine months. Oh good God no, I’m not pregnant, but having all 8 kids in school this year, I vowed I would read at least one, maybe two, big girl novels before June.
Well, let’s just say I exceeded my goal and have read nearly a dozen choice novels, but even better—my youngest child, Annie, now finishing up Kindergarten learned to read this year, and when she’s not dolling herself up with my make-up and heels, she’s reading a book to her Barbie’s, the dogs, the dog’s fleas—basically anything that will pretend they are listening.
Last week we were sitting in the car waiting for my 9th grade son to come out of Dunkin Donuts with his new favorite, a Boston Crème donut. (To think he used to gag years ago when he watched me lick that heavenly crème off the steering wheel on the way home from church!) As we sat patiently waiting, Annie pulled out one of her favorite books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss.
As she excitedly began to read the book to me, I looked across the parking lot and got my eyes full of something I’ve yet to see while sitting in the car—a woman parked two cars away was shaving—under her arms. I won’t lie to you, my curiosity got the best of me, and I prayed my son and his 800 calorie donut wouldn’t come out until this gal was done with her shave.
The reading of Oh, the Places You’ll Go carried on in the background as the hair removal in the Ford Focus continued. I will say, she was very meticulous, not only did she use shaving cream she also checked her progress in the rearview mirror. Even better, when her significant other returned with her cup of coffee, she was able to sip and finish up all at the same time! Impressive!
Afraid of what procedure she might start next, I tried to stay focused on Dr. Seuss until my son finally returned to the car. As we drove to his baseball game, I started thinking about the message of Seuss’s book.
In case you’ve forgotten, the reader in this story is the protagonist and travels through several places until eventually encountering “The Waiting Place”, which is ominously addressed as being a place where everyone is always waiting for something to happen. It is implied that time does not pass in the Waiting Place. As the protagonist continues to explore, spurred on by the thoughts of places he will visit and things he will discover, the book cheerfully concludes with an optimistic ending.
Annie kept reading and I started thinking about all the places I had gone since college. You see, this particular Dr. Seuss book is a popular gift for graduates each year. Sales increase every spring with up to 300,000 copies each year!
Fondly looking back, I certainly have gone a few places. There was the trip to Bermuda during spring break in college where I got my first real experience ordering off an upscale menu. After asking the waitress at least 6 times what the soup Du jour was, though she told me they didn’t have any that day, I insisted she tell me what it was even if they didn’t have any! Not one of my finer epicurean moments.
Soon after my journey brought me down the aisle and to the altar where I married the man I met on my 21st birthday in the dental office I was working at. Our honeymoon destination of Acapulco was certainly beautiful and very romantic, up until we drank the water that was. After that, the only place we went for the rest of that week was the bathroom. 25 years later, we’ve decided never to return to Mexico unless it’s via a Cinco de Mayo party!
Parenting 8 kids ages 6 thru 18 has most definitely taken me places I never thought possible—across the country for an adoption, 7 trips to the delivery room and numerous stops there afterwards including everything from Kindergarten plays, rides in ambulances to the emergency room, back to the church parking lots where I actually left one of my cherubs behind, and occasionally I’ve had a few pit stops at the loony bin (those white padded rooms aren’t so bad, really!).
But you know what I’ve found to be the most amazing place I’ve ever gone? My imagination! No matter how busy life gets, or how many setbacks or victories my life has handed me I’ve always been able to count on my imagination to point me in the right direction. I think that’s why reading has become so important to me once again, and as Dr. Seuss so brilliantly closes the story with—”Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed! (98¾% guaranteed.)”
Oh, the places I’m going to go!
Copyright 2012 Cheryl L. Butler