“Which was harder for you when Andy (my oldest) or when Matt (the middle son) left home?” my daughter asks me as we drive to school.
She has volunteered herself to help me sort through the many, many books in my cupboard. Actually she volunteered to give her time as long as there is an hourly wage. That’s ok. I gladly pay her. She’s got a good sense of organization which I need when it comes to the books in my classroom.
I probably have 2,000 books, maybe more. That sounds insane. But it’s true. You see, I never get rid of anything. The thought of letting a book go is just too difficult. I mean after all, someone might like this book. The pages are falling out, yeah, but we can tape it.
I told myself that this year, I’d change. I’d get rid of those well loved books that are broken into three parts and have covers attached with packing tape. I mean who would read that? It’s totally unappealing. I promised myself I’d get rid of those books that no one picks up. The problem is I keep having hope for the-never-read-books. I think some day, this book will be just right for some student. I just can’t bear to let them go unwanted. Today, I’m telling myself to let them go.
I have a box in front of my closet. In it are 25 year-old Roget’s Thesauruses and 35-year old Intermediate Dictionaries. It’s a start I tell myself.
The room is covered with books on tables. Not categorized by author, but by genres. The dog lover books on one table. Historical fiction stacked on two tables. Sports, mystery, bullying, boys against girls, girly girl, adventure, fantasy tables are all around the room. This is how I think when it comes to books.
I keep pulling out books. We look for partner books, for book club books. The club books with missing partners might get mixed in with the partner books. Many books are put in the independent pile, the pile with no partners.
Books like songs bring back memories of time and people. I pick up the Unicorn Chronicles series and remember Lilly. This year, two groups of girls found them and loved them again.
Shredderman, Origami Yoda and Winn Dixie saves boys every year and this year was no different. Isaiah came in not liking reading and left asking for more reading time.
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish and Doll Bones were big hits as was the ever popular Amulet series.
One boy really loved On My Honor. He read it four times. He was also slow to come to the reading party. But that book somehow just made it click for him.
I start to put away my historical fiction. Nazi Germany was high interest this year. I notice one copy of The Boy in Stripped Pajamas is missing. Probably at Mauricio’s house. He tends to hold on to things. Lucky for me his little brother is coming back.
Every year there is a contingent of kids who love the Warriors series. I think those who love fighting animals are of a certain type. I can’t get anyone to take up Perloo. I just loved the fighting rabbits. I set the fighting animal series on one table. It really is its own genre.
I pull out the one copy I have of the children’s version of the Odyssey. No one has read this since my son. But it was The book for him. So I keep it, even though no one reads it, I have to. There can’t be just one boy who loves this book. There has got to be another. .
My daughter picks up a book from the Candy Apple series. “I loved these books,” she says.
We all have our pet books. The ones we hold close. Every time you see them you get a certain feeling of excitement, of remembering, of wondering who will love this treasure.
After two hours we have to go. I pack away the partner books next to the single copy treasures that might be just The book for someone next year. These books hold histories, relationships and hope for more. They are packed away waiting for the right person to love them again. .
We walk out the door with my not-so-heavy box of books to be given away. Am I crazy to hold on to some of these books in the closet? Absolutely. But I suppose I’m not quite ready to let go yet. So I house them for a little while longer, still waiting for just in case.
As we drive away from the school, she asks me again about how I felt when each son left home. Which was worse she asks.
They are the same, but different, I tell her. I try not to think too much about it. If I did it would be too hard. I tell her, this is what happens in life, kids move on. She’s asks how I will take her leaving in two years. I’ll have to find out when we get there, I say. I shelve away my feelings about such things. And go on.