A Mother's Notebook: Inspiring the Next Generation of Writers and Readers

  Photo courtesy of  Jimmie

Photo courtesy of Jimmie

By Catherine Kearns

When I was younger, I enjoyed buying school supplies. It wasn’t because I wanted the coolest folder or newest backpack (I used the same red JanSport for years). The fact was I loved knowing that the notebook I was holding would become part of me for the next eight months. It would contain all the new ideas and theories I would learn over the course of the school year. These pages would be filled with my own handwriting. I could look back on these pages and be reminded of the time I spent in class, the memories that were made, and the lessons that were taught. Granted, some pages would be filled with doodles and quotes, or be ripped out and used as notes (I always hated the small pieces of paper that got left behind after ripping out a page—small imperfection in an otherwise neat notebook), but mostly that notebook would reflect who I was.

One could tell what kind of student I was just by glancing at the pages. My handwriting was neat and seldom would you find a mistake hidden in the words (I was not against rewriting an entire page for one spelling mistake). I took copious notes, even in classes that took their lessons straight from the textbook. I used highlighters while studying and made random comments in the margins. I was a student who enjoyed the lines of my notebook and took great pride in filling those pages with what I thought was most important.

Well, I haven’t bought a notebook in about 10 years. Damn…that makes me feel so old.

Anyway, this year I found myself buying my son his first notebook for kindergarten. When he was born people constantly told me that the time will fly by—that before I know it he will be all grown up and ready for the world without me. And, in the hopes of not sounding clique, it’s truly hard to believe that this moment in his life has arrived.

He will no longer sit with me at lunchtime or help me around the house as I scramble to keep things in order. I won’t hear, “Excuse me, Mom,” or “Mom, can you help me?” a million times a day. The bathroom sink will remain dry because he will not be there to soak the entire thing every time he washes his hands. His brothers will have to learn to entertain themselves without his constant rules and guidelines (my oldest is very much like me). But the hardest thing to accept is that part of me will be leaving the house every day, and I will have to survive without it seven hours every day.

I will constantly be wondering: Is he having fun? Did he eat his lunch? Is he listening to the teacher? Did he remember to wash his hands?  What is he learning? Did he forget his lunch box again? Questions I am sure that he will answer when he gets home—or he will just respond “good” to everything and act like nothing has changed for either one of us. But I will need to wait till pickup to find out these riveting tales. Let’s not forget the fact that he is five and chances are the stories will be filled with holes or exaggerated drama, which means I am still missing out. Not cool.

And then I am reminded—he will have a notebook that he will carry with him all year, allowing me to venture into his world and watch him grow. Of course, he wanted the coolest "Star Wars" notebook available (can’t have a school year without Kylo Ren and some badass Stormtroopers) but either way, this notebook will help fill in those hours when we are apart.

I will be able to watch his penmanship improve. Read sentences and thoughts he created without having to ask me what he should write. There will be drawings depicting his imagination and doodles that only make sense to him and his friends. His notebook will show me what kind of boy he is becoming, because, let’s be honest, he is no longer a baby. I will know just from looking at the pages what areas he still needs my help in and which ones he has figured out all on his own.

The pages will be his own. He will be the author and I will become the dedicated audience waiting patiently for the next chapter to begin. Let’s do this Connor…I will forever be your most dedicated reader.

The Writer’s Bone Essays Archive