Box Car Children

Maddie and I are well on our way to reading the entire “Boxcar Children” series. We began in August, and usually have one on the go, with one in the wings, waiting to be read. We read them on the couch, and on Maddie’s bed and out on the back lawn on a blanket. We love them so much that they come along in the car with us and at each red-light I quickly grab the book and continue reading. We put Chicago traffic to good use. [Not sure how safe it is but I promise, I only read when we’re stopped … usually.]

We eat them up. It’s our little time together and we have somehow even convinced Jackson that he, too, loves the Boxcar Children. He listens for about 5 minutes and then slowly begins wandering and playing, halfway listening, returning every-so-often to check in.

So this is crazy. There we were, one afternoon, driving downtown Chicago, and out of nowhere – and I do mean nowhere - I glanced to my right, along this deserted alley/railroad track and this is what I saw.

Can you believe it?

A single, red, box car just WAITING for us to explore it. Begging us, really.

So I turned to Maddie and said, “Maddie, look. It’s a red boxcar, just like in our books! We’ve got to see if we can get in it and explore it. This isn’t a safe part of Chicago (we were heading through Cabrini Green at the time) so let’s go get Daddy and we’ll come back later this week and see if we can explore it.” So that’s just what we did. One evening after work, Jack drove us back to Division Street to see OUR special red boxcar.

We arrived and felt rather conspicuous. I kept wondering when the drug dealers were going to pull up alongside and offer us a hit. Or worse yet, it felt like we were in mafia territory and I was squinting to see if the big black Mercedes was racing towards us with guns ablazin’.

All the while Jack hoisted Maddie and Jackson into the big, empty car and Maddie was mesmerized by the hugeness of it. It was just too perfect. What a great visual lesson for her to see an actual boxcar up close. She imagined where the furniture was and how the siblings cleaned it and where their beds were. She looked all over, curious as to how it worked. We watched her wheels turn as she took in what she thought to be the Boxcar Children’s own personal boxcar. It was like seeing her in a candy store, not sure what to think of all the sights and smells. What a little adventure for her.

It made our books come alive, and as a former educator, I LOVE that!

Jack often makes the comment, “I think Mommy likes the book as much as you do, Maddie,” and he’s most definitely correct. While I love a good 3rd grade level mystery, for me, the time that we steal away to read our book is more about the time that I can simply enjoy Maddie. She’s an absolute delight. She’s lost in the book, often blurting out who she thinks did it and what the children could do next to solve the mystery. At the end of the chapter I always tease by saying, “Okay, all done for today.” And she begs for just one.more.chapter.mommy. And of course I acquiesce. And we continue on our little adventure, wondering ‘who done it’ and when the four siblings will catch the bad guys.

It’s perhaps a measure of escape for me. I’m not doing crowd control. I’m not managing sibling rivalry. I’m not cleaning the house. I’m not cooking supper. The kids aren’t running hither and yon, jumping off the furniture. We’re just tucked in and snugly on the couch, reading together quietly. I guess it’s the fact that for a few brief moments I don’t have to be the mom. I just get to be with her, delighting in her, spending quality time with her, enjoying the simple pleasure of words on a page.


Cleary said…
I love reading like this with my kids. 3 different levels of reading and they all get lost in their own book. It's got a special quality to it.
amywb said…
I can't wait to read those book with Liam. What an awesome photo of Jackson!
Alice said…
This is wonderful. Some of our best times are reading together. And some of my best memories as a child are having my mom and dad read to me--obviously, seeing as how both our girls are named from books my dad read to me when I was little!

How cool that you found that boxcar and Maddie got to imagine all that!

Popular Posts