We are sitting on the bedroom floor, Henry and I, the bedroom his Aunt Morgan grew up in. I have a book in my hand, a fun one. I’m excited to read it to him. He likes to turn the pages in the books we read together. When he’s happy, I’m happy.
We get to the page with the wild boar.
But uh-oh. Henry responds in a way I don’t expect.
I’ve always loved reading books from the time I was a child. When my own daughters were children, we read lots and lots and lots of books together. Now that we have grandchildren, I’ve already spent hours of enjoyment reading books with them.
I keep our favorite pop-up books on a high shelf that the littlest fingers can’t reach on their own. These are the special books. These are the ones we only share together.
The book I’m reading this morning with my grandson Henry has been one of my favorites. Each page is split. The top half of each page is the top half of an animal’s face and the bottom half is is the bottom half of its face. You can turn the tops and bottoms together to see the traditional animal, or mix and match to get wacky combinations.
Henry and I are doing it the traditional way. We see the owl who says hoot-hoot and flies around in the dark. We see the rabbit who likes to much carrots and hops and jumps in the grass.
And then we turn to the animal that digs up roots and snorts and grunts in the forest: the wild boar.
That’s when it happens.
Henry screws up his little face and lets out a wail. His eyes are terrified and his voice matches. A real tear rolls down his chubby cheek. This page has scared him.
I made him cry.
I feel like crying, too. I don’t want to make him sad. It’s the opposite of who I want to be in his life.
But now that I think about it, none of the grandkids have responded to this book with joy. What feels like a fun book to me has seemed like a disturbing book to them.
I put the book back on the top shelf. We won’t look at this page again. Maybe not even look at this book ever again.
There are enough scary things in life as it is. I don’t want to voluntarily create another one.
I know I can’t protect my grandchildren from all the hard things in life, just like I couldn’t protect my own children from them.
But I don’t have to unnecessarily create hard things.
Even unintentionally though, I know I’ll make many mistakes as a grandparent, just as I made many mistakes as a parent.
But when possible, I want to learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes again and again, like the mistake I made with this book.
Today forward, I’ll learn from this mistake.
At least in this book, we won’t turn to the wild boar again.
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