When you look up “awesome” in the dictionary, you find a picture of my mom. I know this because, when I was about seven, I copied my children’s dictionary from cover to cover, including the pictures, and my mom never called me a freak, not once.
Even at that age, I loved words and wanted to know all about them… but I could’ve easily learned to hate books. Why? School. That’s right, my required reading list nearly soured me on the whole world of literature when my teacher assigned A Taste of Blackberries. (Apologies to anyone who loves this book.)
Spoiler alert: one of the main characters dies. And what was his name? You guessed it: Jamie. To say I was sad would be an understatement. I sobbed for Jamie. And I sobbed when my classmates started teasing me. Apparently, even though I hadn’t a few days before, I now had a “boy” name. A “dead” name. At recess, kids would point in mock terror and shout, “Careful, Jayme – a bee!” (Cause of death for unfortunate literary Jamie)
My takeaway? “Big kid” books sucked. I wanted nothing to do with them.
So Mom tricked me into reading The Secret Garden. I really wanted to see the movie, and she said she’d only take me if I read the book. So I did. And I loved it. Like really, really loved it. And this wasn’t a one time thing for Mom. When my little sister decided reading was boring, she bought her a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m not sure Mom planned on that turning into midnight book release parties and Halloween costumes, but it worked in a big way. All during school, when my required reading just kept getting bleaker and bleaker, I escaped into the pages of Peter Pan and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, broke curses along with Ella of Frell, and nowadays when life gets me down I take up my sword and join Percy Jackson. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.
My mom gave me that and so much more, so Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I know I don’t say it enough, but thank you. Thank you for always knowing best. Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to be different. And thank you for reminding me that even when something looks shriveled up and horrible, deep down, it can still be “wick.”
P.S. If you’ve never read The Secret Garden, “wick” means “alive” or “lively.”