In bed with Donald Duck

Many mothers’ dream of their baby girls growing up and putting on ballet shoes and dancing across the stage in a pink tutu or playing dress-up with her dolls and imaginary friends. Others dream of their daughters becoming a famous woman doctor who makes a difference in the world or a oscar winning movie star or a renowned rocket scientist.

Along with these dreams I also had a vision that came true this morning. A vision that made my heart melt and one of those moments when you know that having a child is worth everything. It is also somewhat indulgent and many people may wonder “where does she find the time?” For me, it is a moment in life I hope to repeat often with my daughter, no matter how busy I am.

Jean walked in on the scene and exclaimed with a big smile on his face.

“You two look sooooo…. happy.”

So what is this scene, this vision you ask?. Something so normal, so simple and so fulfilling. First let me back up and remind you that Zoe-Pascale is 6 and ¾ (she reminds us of that) and after completing CP or First Grade in the French village she has mastered the French art of reading and is not far behind in English.

It all started yesterday when we went to a swim class and afterwards I promised to take her to the Marché, the nearby market in Bagnols sur Ceze, buy her a dress and have lunch alone sans papa. After finding the perfect yellow Provencal dress we were walking by a used book stall and spotted some English novels. She picked out a cover for me she liked and I picked one out as well. Sitting next to it were some French Disney comic books. Not the thin ones I used to buy as a child, but a comic book that was was a compilation of 10 stories with a total of 308 pages. Quite a thick book by any standard. For one Euro she picked out a Donald Duck classic in French and we set off for lunch.

This morning I woke up at 8:00am and decided to read in bed for awhile until Zoé woke up and Jean brought me my coffee. (Yes, practically every morning I get café au lait in bed – a prerequisite to a perfect husband). A few minutes later I see my bundle of joy leap onto the bed and say,

“I want to read with you. I want to read my new comic book.”

Reaching over the bed, she grabbed the book, we propped up some more pillows and we both laid there reading our own books in total peace. Once in awhile she would read out loud and I would listen to hear her speak such perfect French as though it was music to my ears, soothing background music. I waited for her to ask me for help. To read certain words, to get bored, but it did not happen. Five minutes passed, twenty minutes passed and nothing but total bliss of mother and daughter lying side by side in bed while immersed in reading our own books.

I had a flashback of the time when I drove across country with my Dad at age 9. Each night we would stop at a motel, take a swim in the pool, eat dinner at a local diner and buy a bar of Hershey chocolate and a coke to have in the room later for dessert. We’d get back to the room about 7:30pm and lie down on the bed side by side, take out our books and read for the next two hours being together in a state of bliss. A few words about “pass the chocolate,” or “can I have a sip of coke,” would be said and we return to our books. It was a magic time in my life, a special trip with just my Dad and me. I learned my love of reading directly from him.

Jean walked in with my café au lait and Zoe-Pascales' tea, laughing and smiling at the sight of the two of us reading side by side in bed.

“You must be in heaven, reading with your little girl so peacefully.”

I love to read. How could I not be happy? Reading together next to my babe. Finally she exclaimed

“I finished the story. I want to read another.”

“Okay” I said.

Two hours later I finally said, “It is time to get up, the day will be gone before we get up.”

“But maman, this is so great. I love to read in bed with you.”

What could I do but smile, give her a big kiss and hug and say,

“You have just found a whole new world in reading.

“I like this maman, but you’ll still read to me every night, right?”

“Of course, baby, think how many books in the world we get to read.”

Happiness found in the small moments of complete togetherness with my baby girl.