You know what hope is?
Hope is a bastard
Hope is a liar
A cheat and a tease
Hope comes near you?
Kick it's backside
Got no place in days like these…
--Picture Window, Ben Folds & Nick Hornby
He never read to us.
At least, I have no memory of hearing stories fall from his tobacco-stained lips, for me or for my sister. And if there were any, ever, they've long since faded like print on the yellowed page.
No, my father never read to us when we were children. He was never the bookish type, and the few times I saw him beyond the divorce, my bookishness was always a joke to him.
My mom read to us, though. A lot. That's what got me hooked on books. An addiction I embrace to this day in the middle age of young fatherhood.
The Mama and I both are avid readers, from the printed page to e-book, so it's hard for me to imagine those who aren't, especially with their children. And there are a lot. No judgement other than it's so important for learning and language development and for reinforcing the imagination's synaptical backstops.
You know, the magical ability to adapt when the balls are comin' too fast. Or when your mom's being thrown against it. Or you. Agaist the wall. Againt the floor. Or the door.
Seriously. The little boys I watch at the women's center have lived in varying levels of domestic violence, just as my sister and I did when we were children. This week I read them books and they were riveted, leaning against me on either side as well as scrambling for my lap.
This from rough-and-tumble boys, who although are fairly well-adjusted considering their circumstances, are still boys who are loud and break stuff and are angry and frustrated and I bet, at times, think hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease.
Until they were read to.
Now, I'm not saying that reading alone is the simple antidote that reverses a destructive environment, but the repetitive act itself sure makes for empathic bookends.
We could use a lot more of those.