Friday, June 14, 2013

The Owner's Manual

I caught our six-year-old reading the owner's manual to her booster seat.  Will was driving.  I was in the passenger's seat.  Katie was in the back.  I looked into the mirror over my visor and I could see Katie was reading something, but I couldn't make out what it was.

"What are you reading, Punk?" I asked.

Katie looked up at my visor mirror and caught my eye.  "The owner's manual to my booster seat."

"Oh yeah?  Why are you reading that?" I asked, a terrible thing for a librarian-mother to ask a child, but it was already out of my mouth before I realized how negative it sounded.  

I can't stand to read manuals of any kind.  When I get something new I fiddle around with it until I know how it works.  If I can't figure it out myself, I ask for help from someone else.  As a last resort I might consult the manual if I'm desperate, but I've been known to simply chuck something into the back of my closet before consulting the owner's manual.

"Because it's interesting!" Katie exclaimed.

I smiled like I did the time when she was three and woke me up at six in the morning to ask if I'd make her some broccoli.  Our sweet, strange child.

Now, Katie isn't always such a goody two-shoes.  Most days she's happy to play video games until she gets a headache and eat candy until she gets heartburn.  It's not all reading owner's manuals and eating broccoli with her.  But when it is, it's hard for me to keep a straight face.

"What's so interesting about the owner's manual to your booster seat?" I asked.

"Well, it tells you how to build it!  And it has lots of pictures of kids!  Babies and big kids like me!  And I can read it in English or flip it over and read it in Spanish!"

"How do you know how to read Spanish?" I asked.

"Well, if I read this maybe when school starts Mateo will be in my class again and I can tell him what I read and he can translate it into bilingual for me!" She said, looking back down.  

I could hear a page turn as I watched our funny kid re-focus on the owner's manual.