Me, speaking to my youngest child: Hey, would you like me to read you a story?
Youngest child comes closer: Okay.
I hold up a stack of books, all Beatrix Potter: Which one would you like?
Youngest child: Oh, I dunno... this one?
Me: We read that yesterday. Let's try this one. We want to read all of them, remember.
Youngest child: Okay.
We travel over to the couch and get comfortable, ready to enjoy 'The Tale of Benjamin Bunny'. I open the book and proudly tell my child that the book we are going to read was first published 112 years ago. My youngest is particularly good with numbers so I wait while that fact and its numerical significance sinks in. He wisely nods his head and leans a little closer.
I glance up.
My middle child stands at the sink, his hands in the sudsy water part way through completing his task of washing the dishes. But he's not washing. He's looking at me. His eyebrows raised.
I feign innocence: What?
Middle child, shaking his head: I know what you're doing...
I slip my arm protectively around my youngest child: We're reading stories together.
Middle child: Yeah.... and it's got nothing to do with your study?
I turn the page. I'm silently taking note of the fine lines of illustration, considering the lasting appeal of these books, contemplating the original audience, the current audience and the clever use of language. But in my defence I say: Everyone needs to know Beatrix Potter!
My middle son laughs and turns back to his washing.
I begin reading.
We've only got three pages in when my oldest child enters the room. Oblivious to any prior conversation she looks up from her phone to see what we're doing: I love those books!
I catch my middle child's eye and grin a told-you-so grin.
My daughter settles on the couch to listen in. And I keep reading: "'Peter', said little Benjamin in a whisper- 'who has got your clothes?'"