Saturday, December 5, 2009

When my children were born, I promised myself that I would read everything that they read. It was easy at first. 'Brown Bear' and 'Pat the Bunny' were a piece of cake. Then the ante upped when they went to school. They were exposed to teachers and friends with ideas and more books than I can possibly keep up with, and both developed a voracious appetite for literature. Books are devoured at our house. We take trips to the library and come home with stacks of books. I cried "Uncle" and had one more item to add to my "Things Mom feels guilty about" list. So to appease my guilt, I modified my promise to read books that they think are important. Those books are left on the ledge of the bathroom window. As my daughters aged, the storylines of the books became more adult; I noticed a trend, teens faced with serious issues- suicides, rape, relationships, cliques, fitting in, partner abuse, drug use. The list of tragedies felt endless.


But the unintended benefit to this is that I have a way to talk to N &Em about important things. Talking about characters rather than real people keeps the conversation from becoming personally threatening, yet allows me an opportunity to share my values and adult perspective about serious issues. So I knew as the 'Twilight' craze began sweeping the country last year that it would be on my short list of books to read.

"Mom, you have to read 'Twilight.' It's amazing," said N, my oldest who was 15 at the time. I had illusions of fabulous prose and a gripping storyline. Those illusions were quickly shattered. In the story, the main character Edward the vampire is filled with angst. It drips from every page. As a mother of 2 teenagers, I do my best to stomp out angst at every turn. Oh, and he sparkles, and sparkles, and then we get to hear how he sparkles again. The young woman Bella destined to be his girlfriend/future vampire is certain that she is not good enough for a guy that sparkles. Her lack of self-confidence is both boring and alarming. She isn't pretty enough, interesting enough, or graceful enough to hang out with the cool kids (vampires). So 100 pages into it, the book began to gather dust on my nightstand. Normally, I am able to read books in a day or two....... until 'Twilight'. For over a year it remained undisturbed and became a silent reminder of how I let down my children.

Then something inspirational happened. I bought halloween candy. More importantly, 'New Moon' chocolates, individual pieces of chocolates of various flavors with images of Edward on the wrapper. I had visions of young tweens going home after trick-or-treating with pillowcases full of candy, pulling out the 'New Moon' chocolates and swooning. So I bought two bags. Luckily, we had lots of candy leftovers from Halloween, so I spent November eating chocolates and feeling double the guilt. Guilt for eating too much candy and more guilt because every time I looked at Edward the vampire, it reminded me that I had not kept my promise. So I started reading 10 pages every night. I am now at page 352. The prose has not improved. Edward still sparkles, but I that much closer to being able to really talk to my teenage daughters about the book. I am close to finishing, and everyone I talk to about this (30+ in age) is very sympathetic and swears that the last 100 pages go by quickly.

Please don't ruin the ending for me. Yes, I know they get together, but what I want to know is does the angst end and will Bella ever get the boost of confidence that she needs to make her relationship with Edward work? I may judge the book lousy by my literary standards, but we are going to have a great conversation when I finish reading it. And I'll have one more item crossed off the "Things Mom feels guilty about " list.

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