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In a class by itself

Tonight I wept uncontrollably in front of my son. I had felt lump after lump form in my throat and struggled to choke back what I knew were inevitable tears. As I held still, quiet, trying to get a grip, Ethan looked up at me, his own tears threatening to spill over onto his cheeks. I paused what I had been doing and grabbed onto him, holding him tightly to me, and cried.

I’ve actually been looking forward to this day for years.

I let go of him, took a deep breath, and continued with my task.

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’

‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

I started reading Charlotte’s Web to Ethan midday yesterday. I had told him it was one of my absolute favorite books of all time. He was only mildly impressed, so I convinced him to let me start the book while his brother and sister napped by bribing him with a piece of candy. Two chapters in and he was begging for more, the candy forgotten. In the evening he requested a chapter while taking his bath, and I wasn’t about to say no. Extra chapters at bedtime and why not? No school the next day.

He and I took a trip to The Getty today. My sister was in town for a day to see an exhibit and I wanted to say a quick hi. After Ethan and I had done the Art Detective sleuthing thing, and before we met up with my sister, we sat on the lawn in the shade and read of Wilbur’s attempts at spinning a web. Not long after we got home I found myself reading out loud while the three kids ate their dinner. I read and read until it was time for the little ones to go up to bed, and when their light was turned out, Jack and I snuggled Ethan into our bed and I read some more.

Eight o’clock, Ethan’s bedtime, rolled around and I was still reading. Just a little bit more, I thought to myself, and we’re about to get to the best part. I kept reading.

An hour later I was tucking Ethan into bed, holding him as he cried for Charlotte, stroking his back as he praised Templeton for doing the right thing (even though he had to be bribed) by saving Charlotte’s babies, squeezing his hand as he ultimately gave that baby-saving credit to Wilbur.

“Mommy, I love that book but I do not like that Charlotte died.”

“I know, baby. But Charlotte did a wonderful thing, didn’t she? She saved Wilbur’s life, and that gave her great happiness, didn’t it?”

“Mommy, I will remember this book for the rest of my life.”

“You know what is great about a book like this? A book that touches you here in your heart and makes you feel such strong feelings? You can pick it up in a year or two and read it again and it will still be wonderful. We’ll read it again in a few years and it will touch your heart just as strongly.”

“When I am a Daddy, I am going to read this book to my children.”

And with that, I clutched my big boy and sobbed incredibly proud and joyful tears into his shoulder.


  1. Emily says:

    Well, now *I’m* crying.

  2. Julie says:


  3. This is the sweetest story ever. You just made a reader out of your boy. What a wonderful memory you’ve created.
    I remember what did it for me- my stepdad reading me Dr. Dolittle at bedtime. I was hooked- to this day, still am.

  4. Teri Nine says:

    I cannot wait to read that with my girls! When Ethan is an old man, he will remember yesterday when he misses you. You are such a good mom, Abi!

  5. Tarrin says:

    I passed the link to this post on to Jason (my fiance), who teaches 10th and 11th grade English at a continuation high school. His response:

    “That is so damn adorable and uplifting to hear as a person who just spent five hours teaching English to kids who never got that when they were younger.”

    So good on you, Abi and Ethan. Anecdotes like these give Jason and me so much hope!

  6. Amy Cohen says:

    Love this. Very sweet. Brooklyn has some favorites from when she was a baby that she is already practicing to read to Kensi. We are definitely a book family and can think of nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than to get lost in a few books (or in Barnes & Noble.) 😉

  7. Kerry says:

    Wow, Abi! I’m so moved by this. Thank you for sharing a wonderful moment so eloquently.

  8. Abi says:

    Hey — thanks everyone for the comments on this. It was an awesome (in the truest sense of the word) experience with him. We’ve now finished Stuart Little (frankly, not as good as I remembered it to be) and are now on to Trumpet of the Swan (LOVING it).

  9. lailani says:

    Great. You just ruined the end of the book without even putting a spoiler alert in the heading.

    I kid. I read that book when I was a wee young human. I truly didn’t remember what it was about, except there was a spider and a pig. I’ll have to read it again sometime. Maybe after I finish my latest teenager trilogy. I LOVE easy reading.