You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.
Who read to me: Mother, great-grandmother, grandmothers, godmother, great aunt and uncle, don’t remember The Pater reading, but babysitters, mothers of friends, teachers, of course, my own sisters and Au Pairs. I was extremely critical of the Au Pair reading technique—because how could an Au Pair ever take the place of a mother’s reading, especially when you might be lucky to get any Au Pair reading at all when the mother was off with The Pater touring the Loire Valley and drinking good wine and eating cow brains and practicing her high school French while you and your sisters were left with–that particular Au Pair era–the 18 year old Swedish live-in who hated books but loved bikers, a pack of bikers, in fact, that she invited back to your hushed-suburban home for a party that raged so alarmingly the neighbors almost called the police and you didn’t sleep, jealous of your older sister who was allowed to walk among the melee you peeked at through the banisters at the top of the stairs until the crowd and its music–Rod Stewart, mostly, but also Bob Dylan in the phase when Britain hated him–migrated upstairs and doors banged and bikers guffawed like Santa Claus and you were kind of freaked, but intrigued and the next thing you knew you and your sisters were waving goodbye to the Swedish Au Pair, who vaguely resembled Cinderella-pre-prince, as she ducked into the taxi your parents summoned that fateful day in the quaint neighborhood, zooming that teenager and her limited read-aloud talents and her taste for giants in leather away from you forever…making way, sadly–O Parents! What the he** were you thinking!–for the next Au Pair, an early-twenties-something terrified Parisian who wore a wooden crucifix and saw ghosts…Saw. Heard. Despised us. Despised children in general. Despised children’s books…Sigh…