Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Of dogs and men

Those who know me well can probably guess my all-time favorite children's book. Well, it's not exactly a book, it's a whole series. And I know I'm not really original here, there's a whole following for this series, but it's still my favorite. Of course, I'm talking about the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I can remember when my mom first read Little House on the Prairie to me. I'm fairly certain that she read this one first, even though it's not the first in the series. You can tell that I've been forever scarred, can't you? As if that wasn't enough to send me to therapy, she also fell asleep in the midst of reading, on many occasions. She'd sit her chair in the hallway, between my brother's room and mine, start reading and promptly fall asleep. But here I am and I can walk and chew gum at the same time. It's a miracle!

I have no idea how many times I've read one or more of the series to others. I think I read a few of them to the kids on the bus. Yeah, a teacher I was born to be. We had a 2 hour bus ride for several of our elementary and middle school years. Reading to my brother and a few of the other younger kids was my way of trying to keep them out of trouble during the long ride. It's also where I had my first kiss; we were oh, about 1st and 4th grade, me being the older, more mature of the two of us. But golly, where is this going? Anyway, just recently I ran into one of those kids who said something like, "Don't you remember me? You used to read to me on the bus!" And my old bus driver still brings it up every time I visit my parents' church. He comes running down the aisle to give me a big hug and tells everyone around us that he was my bus driver and that I was so helpful as I read to the little kids. Does wonders for my ego.

I also read one of the books to my first graders. But then I was told by a teacher in one of the older grades that I was messing up their system. She read the same book to her class so I most certainly was not allowed to read it to mine. Ooooookaaaayyyy.

So I have made a point to read this series to each of my children. And now it's the little girls' turn. It's so much fun to curl up on their bed together at night and share my love for Laura, a girl who does all these things that make me so glad I'm not a pioneer. We laugh at the stories of Laura and Nellie, mourn for the loss of crops and income, and imagine ourselves there as Pa plays his fiddle.

But there's one chapter that should be removed from the series entirely. It's right there in book 5, By The Shores of Silver Lake, page 8, chapter 2, All Grown Up. I know it's coming. Every time. But every time I hope that it has somehow been deleted. There are covers missing from my beloved childhood copies, why can't this chapter fall out and disappear? But then I turn the page and there it is. So I tell myself it will be fine; I know what's going to happen. It will be all right. This time, I'll hold it to - . . .

But by the middle of the first sentence on page 8 at the beginning of chapter 2, I'm bawling like I've just lost my best friend. Because of course I have, or will be, as Jack, their precious bulldog companion, dies on the bottom of page 12. Every time. No matter how many times I will him to get in that wagon and go west with Pa, he insists on circling three times, lying down on that blanket, and while the rest of the house sleeps, ceases to take another breath.

Admit it, you're crying now, too, aren't you?

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