Tonight was the first night of a new adventure with Brooke. We began reading her first "chapter book." I thought going through the Chronicles of Narnia would be a good way to break into this new awesomeness.
So after she brushed her teeth and got into her jammies, we got her all tucked into bed as normal. But instead of her going to sleep, I turned her light on, pulled up a chair and started to read to her. It was a very enjoyable experience for me, and I hope it was for her as well.
We spoke beforehand that this book would not be full of pictures, that she would need to use her imagination to make the pictures alive in her mind. She wasn't sold on this idea. She said she likes picture books more than her imagination, and we struck up a compromise that we'd try this out for a while and if she really didn't like it after a week, we'd leave it alone for now.
So we started out with The Magician's Nephew. She seemed captivated by it. Her focus was on me and the book the entire time. She wasn't fidgety, distracted, or bored. She even interrupted me at times to say that she was able to see the pictures in her imagination. And when the chapter ended with Polly putting the ring on her finger and disappearing, Brooke would have none of it! She needed to know what happened to Polly, and seemed excited when I told her that we'd find out in the next chapter that we read tomorrow night. It appeared that she was starting to understand the concept of a "chapter book." That each chapter is a small story, that can't stand on its own. That it has to tie to the larger story, that each chapter being revealed one at a time eventually makes a large wonderful story. She didn't articulate all this, but smiled and laid down looking very relaxed as I explained it to her.
I was so proud of her.
I've attested in the past that I have learned more about God's love through Brooke than I could ever learn through reading or study. I stand by that, and would be surprised if I ever find a time that I wouldn't. I find that I am constantly comparing experiences that Brooke and I share as daughter and father to experiences that I share with God as one of his children. Tonight was no exception.
I don't want Brooke to grow up, in a selfish way. I want her to remain young, adorable, and awesome forever. I know she will grow up, and I fear that at times she will do so in ways I'd rather she didn't. I look at my desire for her to remain young as her desire to keep reading her "picture books." It's fun! It's great! She loves doing it! The chapter book could not be as good. What is she sacrificing by having a chapter book read to her instead of a picture book? Why take that risk? Can't we just stay with the pictures? See what i'm going for there...
I'd love my little girl to stay my little girl forever....until I knew what i'd be missing. Reading her a chapter book is an exciting thing. It's starting a new chapter of her life (get it?!?!?). Yes, it means moving on from what was comfortable, and even fun/fulfilling in the past to move forward into a new level of fun and fulfillment that she didn't know was possible before, and neither did I.
I think that God is desiring the same from us. That we need to stop being content to read picture books, that we need to allow the chapter books to be read to us. That I don't know how to read on that level yet, and I need the help. And once I get enough experience, and I get the help/instruction that I need, an entirely exciting new world will be available to me that I didn't even know was possible for me.
God knows what's possible. He knows how much i'll enjoy it. And he's excited for me, even though I still may not entirely be convinced that he knows what he's talking about. A chapter book? Seriously? That sounds boring and entirely UN-awesome!
I hope that when confronted with the new experiences, i'm able to take a lesson from the greatest 4 year old on the planet by just sitting back, focusing all my attention and listening.
I can then take what I heard, put my mind to it to actually SEE the pictures myself, instead of looking at what someone else has decided the picture should look like. Hopefully at the end of the chapter I will have a sense of understanding. And the ability to hang back happily waiting to see what the next chapter brings.