When the things parents consider sacred could barely raise a bored eyebrow with the kids, it can be a wincing reminder that not everything in their lives is under our control,
as we’d like to believe
There are but two
kinds of people in this world — those who brazenly read the endings of books before the endings are actually reached and those who would never dream of a crime so heinous. I myself fall with the masses into the latter category, always mindful of the tenets we must uphold: Thou shalt not spoil the endings of good books, no matter how dire the circumstance or how great the temptation.
Of course I’ve been so bold as to glance at the last page while contemplating a purchase in the aisle of a bookstore, allowing my eyes to sweep across the fuzziness of passages, to graze but not actually rest on hallowed words, erasing all hope of ever being rewarded for my ability to resist said allure. If nothing else, I can be proud of that.
However it wasn’t until I was deeply immersed in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Chapter Seven of this scrumptious read-aloud, more specifically) that I became painfully aware of a terrible truth: my children would (and, in fact, had) flipped ahead 20 chapters in said prized piece of literature, to the very last page (gasp!) “…because I wanted to know what would happen to Edward, Mom. I was worried about him. He lives, you know.”
Of course, I was horrified. And profoundly disappointed. I had higher hopes for my progenies — hopes that they would grow to become upstanding citizens, embodying all-that-is-righteous-and-good. Principled people who knew better than to commit sacrilege. Instead, it appears, my wayward bunch has embraced the dark side of life. Even my oldest daughter has admitted to that which is a sheer disgrace — she reads the very last sentence of every novel — as a rule. Needless to say, such a divulgence rendered me dumbfounded.
“Why?! Why would you do such a thing?!” I had to ask finally, eyes fixed upon the creature I thought I knew.
“I don’t know. To pique my interest, I guess.”
“To pique your interest?!” I shrieked, shaking my head in disbelief. “Good grief! Where’s the mystery in that?! Where’s the long-awaited pleasure that a grand culmination promises?! The delicious sense of satisfaction derived from having journeyed far and wide across the vast and uncertain terrain of a narrative gem?!” I demanded to know.
She shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “What’s the big deal, Mom? It’s just a book.”
Of course, this was wrong on so many levels that I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around the unspeakable atrociousness of which it reeked. Nor could I forgive the other two ratfinks for having stolen my joy. I wanted to discover for myself Edward Tulane’s fate — to continue devouring the book, page after succulent page, and eventually, to drink in the magnificence of the grand finale that surely awaited me.
But it was not to be. Those unmerciful beasts continued to fill my ears with details of the story, doling out bite-sized blurbages just to watch me writhe in pain. “No! NO! Don’t tell me a syllable more!” I pleaded, wondering from whence this penchant had come. I don’t remember anyone bursting at the seams to tell me about Goldilocks or Little Red Riding Hood. Back then it was a non-issue. The end was something that would be revealed in due time upon turning the last page. As it should be.
I’d almost rather my heathens wantonly fling caterpillars across the living room and stuff them inside their backpacks (oh wait, they’ve done that!), saturate thirsty bath rugs at will (done that, too!), or festoon the dog with lipstick (“...because we wanted to give him purple-ish lips, Mom!”) than to rob themselves of the parting gift of a fine book.
Sadly, this represents yet one more area of life I cannot control. I must come to grips with the fact that my children will choose friends, careers — and eventually mates — almost entirely devoid of my (infinitely sagacious) input. And ultimately they will decide whether to continue as card-carrying members of the Flip-Ahead-to-the-Last-Page Club. Oy.