It’s that time of night* when I’ve usually settled in with my book (currently: re-reading Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood) but I’ve been writing for three hours (by hand, still) and though I’ve tired of the story I was telling, I still have some primal need to keep moving pencil across page.

For some reason I feel compelled to discuss the fact that I’ve created an actual, physical reading list for  my unborn children. I first composed this list at fifteen and  have since added even more fantastic  works of fiction. I wonder now if it’s an oversight to include only fictional works? I can think of maybe  two non-fiction books (outside of text books) I read growing up, and another handful of character building books my Dad assigned me. Maybe I’ll just let my Mom and Dad make a list of  such books and they can attempt to enforce the reading of said books. Fiction is generally much more agreeable.

Not to mention that once my kiddos have read a few of my selections, they’ll come to trust my excellent taste. I’ve  even considered the fact that my son(s) will be opposed on principle to reading The Little Princess so I’ve added (where necessary) some “boy” selections. Only where the ones I’d prefer them to read are just unbearably girly. They’ll grow out of this, of course, so by the time Pride and Prejudice shows up on the list, they don’t get to opt out.

Mostly I’ve included books  I managed to avoid in English classes over the years (can you believe I never had to read Pride and Prejudice as an English major??) but books (or rather plays, in these instances) like Hamlet and Oedipus Rex were quite influential in my education as a person and a writer that they found their way onto the list as well.

I have such strong and vivid memories of being read to as a child, I can’t deny my children the same experience. I’ve included most of the  books that were read to me, like The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. I can remember being amazed by these books, completely absorbed in the characters and action, never being satisfied when whichever parent happened to be reading to me at the time got tired and quit for the night. I couldn’t wait until I could read and thought it would be beyond awesome if I could create something equally magical.

Not that I want (or expect) my children to be struck by the writer bug (it’s a poor living, so far), but I do know my life would be so much smaller without  books and I want a big, vivid, book-filled life  for my kids. And because I’ve put so much forethought into it, I know they’ll be reading quality literature instead of Tiger Beat and Harry Potter (JUST KIDDING! All seven volumes feature prominently on the list!).

* Note: This was written around 11:30 pm, not at 3:30 in the afternoon as the time stamp might suggest 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It is lovely to bask in the feeling that comes from being the coolest, most awesomest adult out there, even if it is ridiculously untrue.

But I have to say, I don’t really understand it. Is the painfully loud ticking of my biological clock clearly audible to children under 12? It’s like they know that the last thing on this earth that my maternal instincts need would be encouragement, so of course they lay it on so thick. They are angels who can’t be more adorable/agreeable for the time that I spend in their presence. I’m certain children don’t behave this well for their own parents. It’s the one bit of knowledge keeping me from secretly visiting a fertility clinic to increase my odds of “accidental” pregnancy.

Seriously though, I spend a lot of time around the children of family members and friends. “Aunt Liz” just rolls off the tongue of these young ones, even when I’m not even remotely related to them. I’m warm, friendly, soft, and able to lift fifty pounds, though that last part is not without a certain level of discomfort. But I’m willing to suffer the discomfort many times over in order to hold a child for a few minutes. Of course, I get to give these delightful creatures back to their parents and am only required to lift and hold and love on them for certain small time periods. My role is that of temporary play friend/color-er/ring-around-the-rosie player/getter of milk and juice. I am only mildly responsible for disciplining these children, which probably explains my popularity with them.

I was, however, a very unpopular high school teacher, for the very same reason. I was more responsible for disciplining them, but I found that I had no innate skill at laying down the law. When I coached the swim team in my hometown, I had sixty kids who literally would do anything I asked at the drop of a hat. They loved me (or at least, in comparison with my other experiences with students). Because we’d established relationships well before I became an authority figure, they saw me as someone who deserved respect. My high school students saw me as someone who deserved to be tortured and humiliated. I’d like to think my swimmers had it right.

Now what I hear is that your own children are much easier to discipline than someone else’s. It’s your natural role as parent. Their behavior is a reflection of your parenting, so you have external motivators for providing that behavior management.

What I wonder is, will my own kids (imaginary as they may presently be) love me as much as other people’s kids tend to? I don’t expect much from teenagers, who apparently scare the living daylights out of me, but I have plenty of time to prep for that eventuality. I just need to know: is it just the fact that I don’t have to say “no” to other people’s kids or is it just that I’m so warm and fun and loveable?

Who am I kidding! I already know the answer. I’m so gosh darned loveable it’ll be impossible for my own equally loveable (imaginary) children not to love me just as much as those of my friends and family.