I will start this post with a warning that I occasionally give my boyfriend Tony before I text him.
MUSH ALERT! Read at your own risk. Have gagging spoon handy.
My favorite word that Sweet Pea learned from Todd Parr’s Be Who You Are was HEART. I told him that hearts mean love, so now that’s how he says it. Heartlove. Like it’s one word. Sometimes I tell him what love means, too. That because I love him, I think he’s awesome and special and hilarious and kind, and I will take care of him and protect him. When I tell him these things, he looks at me like I’m a little bit crazy, but I like to believe that in his heartlove, he gets it.
There was a time when I was pretty much ready to give up on love. I mean, I was this close.
Then there was Tony.
Before we even met in person, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to text him that I was in the process of becoming a foster parent. I figured that every guy’s dream girl was one who could become a parent at any given time, to any given kid.
After I hit send, I held my breath. Luckily for my lungs, Tony responded immediately. I will never forget that text. Instead of being freaked out by the whole thing, he congratulated me and said he thought it was an awesome thing to do.
We had been dating for just a few weeks when I officially started my foster parent training. Tony drove me to and picked me up from every class. He debriefed with me on the rides home. He rode that emotional rollercoaster with me for ten weeks.
Sweet Pea didn’t arrive for another six or seven months after I finished the classes, but when he did, Tony was still there. In fact, he just recently finished the classes himself to become a foster parent with me. The emotional rollercoaster continues, and sometimes it goes upside down.
So, what does all of this have to do with reading? Well, as it turns out, I found a guy who, in addition to buying into my foster parenting plan, also has a talent for reading books to kids that far outshines my own. He chalks it up to experience from reading to his three amazing boys when they were small. I think he’s just a natural.
I love watching Tony read to Sweet Pea. I get to see Sweet Pea’s every adorable facial expression in a way that I can’t when I read to him. I see the excitement and the pride when he learns to say a new word or to recognize a new color or shape. And I see the way he looks at Tony as Tony brings these stories to life with funny voices, patience, and love.
I get it, kid, I want to tell him. I feel the same way. Heartlove.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
P.S. Tony’s favorite books to read to Sweet Pea are, of course, Todd Parr’s. We don’t have all of them (yet), but The Family Book and It’s Okay to Make Mistakes are two of our current favorites. I love hearing Tony SING What a Wonderful World. Tim Hopgood’s gorgeous illustrations make this book extra special!