Mindfulness and The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Our 18-month old has finally got the message that the boob restaurant is closed overnight (yay!), but now he has a new demand – “BOOK”! Yep, he wakes up at midnight, 2am, 4am, whatever and calls out “BOOOOOK” (along with “mum,” “dad,” and “water,” just to mix it up). And of course, he’ll scream bloody murder if his demands are not met. So fine, if he needs to hear a story to fall back to sleep, it’s not the worst thing in the world. And I’ve read all of his books enough times to know them off by heart so no need to turn on the light…. or have I? To my surprise, I recently found out that I don’t know his books off by heart. What’s going on?

I decided the issue needed some mindful exploration. So the next time we were reading, I brought my full attention to the activity. And what do you know – for the first few words, I was there, fully, reading with him… and then I was off. My eyes and my mouth kept reading but my mind? Outta there.

And so my reading meditation was born. Now, whenever I read to him, I pay keen attention to the moment when my mind starts to wander, and I bring it right back to the task at hand. To that sweet, fleeting moment when he’s snuggled up in my lap, totally absorbed in the story – even if it’s the seventh time he’s heard it today. To his anticipation of each word, his exploration of the pictures, his delight at repeating a new phrase. I take care to really read each word, with my eyes and my mind, to speak those rhyming verses with my entire being. To anchor myself to the present, just me, the book, and my little guru.

Last night, just when I thought he was asleep, he sat bolt upright and yelled “BOOK!” And what do you know – I can now recite “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” from start to finish, without blinking an eye. Or touching the book.

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