There is something about the word HUMANS that seems to carry more weight than any of its synonyms. The word PEOPLE, for example, seems a bit gentler. HUMANS? It is sharp and clinical. Most of the time when I hear someone use it, they’ve chosen it to emphasize what the word is NOT. For example, if you say “a human child,” it is sort of natural to think about the distinction the word human is implying. A human is not an alien, an amphibian, or a potato. And if the word is being used to qualify that characteristic, there is usually a reason. For example, there may have been doubt that the child being discussed was actually human.
Phoebe uses the word HUMAN a lot. I know exactly when I noticed it.
“You are the worst human EVER!”
She’d told me this. It seemed so severe – much worse than being the worst mother, the worst person, or even a simple and open-ended “the worst.” I was the worst HUMAN. Ever.
I took it less personally when I began to realize this was simply her term for folks.
“There are a lot of humans at this playground, Mom.”
“I like all the humans in my dance class!”
“Is this for humans?”
Ironically, the more she uses the term HUMAN, the less she appears to be so. She’s like a little Spock or Starman commenting on how us humans do life. And I enjoy it greatly.
I read aloud to the kids every day. We always read shorter books that we can complete all at once. And now and then through the year – especially in the summer – we choose a longer book – preferably a series – to read together. Last summer, we read and fell in love with The Penderwicks. We enjoyed those books so very much that we didn’t choose another one to read for a while. How could another book measure up? It couldn’t. So, we waited. We grieved. Julia articulated our mournful mood well when she said, “Sure, we can read it again, but we can never read it for the first time again.”
Sometimes a book isn’t really done until you’ve lived with it a while.
Julia recently finished The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima – her favorite book series to date. She’d started The The Hunger Games Trilogy right after and those poor books never stood a chance. She wasn’t ready to move on. We all felt that way about The Penderwicks.
This summer, we’d hoped to find another set of books we could give our hearts to for a season. Our choice? The Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace.
We’ve only just begun to read Betsy-Tacy, but already we are charmed by it. The older sister is called Julia. She plays the piano! There’s a phoebe bird calling, “Phoebe! Phoebe!” And if Lucy or Jack pops up somewhere, I think it will be so sweet I’ll just eat it. It’s delightful. Phoebe is especially enthralled. The stories are semi-autobiographical and if you loved The Little House Books, you’d probably like these, too.
*Kathleen Kelly actually recommends the books to Joe Fox’s little aunt in You’ve Got Mail, so really, how can you go wrong with these books? Also, there are a ton – or maybe just six – Amazon Affiliate Links in this post! Geez.
What are you reading this summer?
Fun, free, and over too soon.
We’ve started a family gratitude journal that we all scribble in after dinner. And day after day, the names that accompany these faces…
…are written, over and again.