Some things about yourself are just hard to hear... but you appreciate the fact that someone has had the courage to say them.
Tonight, just after bedtime (read: when Julian whined so convincingly that he was hungry that I started to believe him and let him come downstairs for a snack), I sat across from him and asked him a question I've asked him several times before. This time I asked in an objective, curious - you might even say professional (recall: I am trained as journalist) - way:
"Why do you so often ask for Daddy to read you books? Is there something I could do better when I read you books?"
Jules, peeling a clementine over his "Sunny Days" placement, glances up, and very seriously says this:
"Mom. I should tell you: Some people are just not good at different voices. You can't talk like Grover. Dad is just like Grover. So I like him to read me books and pat my back."
This kid, I tell you, is very perceptive. I do suck at voices. And I know it. A few years ago in the Spielpalast Cabaret, I played Mika, a dancer, a coquette, a poor Polish girl - who basically turned out also to be mute because speaking with an accent, even speaking in a voice that wasn't my own, on stage, made me self-conscious. Very self-conscious.
I'm not self-conscious using different voices to read to the boys. I am merely incompetent. Completely incompetent. I'll start off using a deep slow voice for Toad and switch to my normal tone when it's time for the narrator to talk. Then I try something dapper and peppy for Frog... but I can't nail it down. It's sort of a cross between Toad, myself and Humphrey Bogart on novocaine. Point is, the kid is right. I am "not so good at different voices." Jon's spirited storytelling style trumps my lame nighttime "reading" routine big time. Of course, Jules wants him to read the books.
The good news is that Jules not only provided an explanation for his parent reading preference, he also offered a prescription for improvement (when I asked him if I should practice).
"Yes, Mom," he said. "You should practice. I'm going to tell you how long you should practice."
"You should practice for 100 years."
"I can't practice for 100 years, Jules."
"Why can't you practice for 100 years?"
I chose my words wisely because (if you read this blog you know) I still have much to learn about discussing death with children.
"I don't have that much time, Jules."
"Why? Because you might die?"
I nod slightly.
"Well then practice for 16 years," he said. "You should get a good Grover voice by then."
I can't make this shit up. Seriously.