The 50 year anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird was on Saturday, I believe, so I felt it necessary to write a post on my daugthers' names.
I was not a reader when I was growing up. I liked listening to stories. I liked telling stories. But I didn't like reading them. I don't know why that is. I could blame it on the fact that I was in all the dumb classes growing up. The ones where I had to read a ditto and answer several multiple choice questions. But I don't think that was necessarily it. I do remember being rather disappointed when I learned how to read because the stories I read weren't as interesting as the ones I had in my head when I looked at the pictures. I remember thinking, "That's it? That's all that's going on here? Just this one sentence?" when I'd read through a picture book. Clearly, my lack of interest in reading had to do with my enormous ego and the fact that I thought I, as a 5 or 6 year old, could write a better book then the published author.
So To Kill A Mockingbird was introduced to me in movie form. I didn't read the book until I started student teaching. Oh, but I loved that movie. My mom brought it home for me from the library when I was (probably pretending to be) sick. Right away I complained because it was black and white, but my mom, in her always patient manner said, "Oh just give it a chance!" So I did.
It didn't take long for me to become enthralled. The opening credits were even interesting to me. What song was the girl humming? Where did all those little treasures come from? Why did she rip her picture of the bird she drew? To Kill A Mockingbird quickly became the most requested movie when I was "sick."
The book, I found, was just as good as the movie. I don't know if I have a favorite scene. I love every scene Miss DuBose is in. I wish the scene where Jem and Scout go to church with Calperina was in the movie. I get chills every time Scout sees Boo Radley for the first time.
I think about the story all the time. When I see a house with pretty flowers in the front, I get a tug in my heart for Mayella Ewell. I wonder about Truman Capote, and his character Dill, and I think it's so cool that he was friends with Harper Lee.
I don't know exactly what I'll pass on to Hadley and Harper. It has become clear that Hadley digs dancing and reading books, and has recently taken an interest in flip flops. And Harper has shown with exuberance that she has very little patience, a true Mediterranean temper, and a disgust for anyone that gets too close to her territory. But whatever they end up becoming, or whoever they take after, I hope that they find some good stories to accompany them in their lives. I hope they use the stories they read to make meaning out of their own lives, or learn something about others that they might not have known before. I hope they have friends who they can sit down with and discuss books over coffee or apple juice.
Hadley has a pretty nasty scratch on her knee from running around this summer. We've had to keep a fresh band-aid on it almost every day the past several days. It's a process every time we need to change her band-aid. Yesterday, when she was sitting on my lap and I was putting a new one on her knee, she said, "Mama, I don't ever want to have another boo-boo again." I said, "I know, but you will probably get another one, one of these days. That's what happens when you play. Sometimes you get hurt." Hadley didn't like this answer, so I rolled up my jeans and showed her the scar on my right knee.
"I got this riding my bike one summer. I was being chased by your uncle and thought I'd outsmart him by turning the bike around really fast but I fell and my knee got stuck in the wheel. It was a really big boo-boo."
"Was there blood?"
"What happened after that?" Hadley asked.
"Well, I had to go to the hospital and get stitches."
"Did your mom, my grandma from Chicago, take you?" she wondered.
"Yea, and she gave me a calculator to play with while the doctor took care of me. I thought that was pretty cool." I said.
"What are stitches?" Hadley asked.
"They're something that makes the boo-boo better." I told her.
"What happened after the stiches?" Hadley asked.
"Well, I went home and a little while later I got back on my bike. I really liked to ride my bike."
"And what happened after that?"
"That's it. That's the end of the story." I said.
"OK, now can you tell that again?" Hadley requested.
So I told it again, this time adding a little more details, a few pieces of dialogue, a wee bit of hand gestures to illustrate the action. I hope the story helped her not so much forget about her fear of getting hurt again, but that it helped her understand that even though she could get hurt, riding a bike, or running down the sidewalk, or sliding down a slide is so much fun despite the chance you could get hurt doing these things.
Besides, it all makes a good story.