Thursday, August 03, 2006

Benign Addiction

I have a serious reading problem. It is an "addiction" with every negative connotation that exists to that word. I can never have enough, I don't enjoy anything quite as much, it makes me a recluse - it takes strenuous effort to take time away from reading to socialize, while I am at it which can be the better part of a day (time permitting) I am lost to the world and my child, I get irritable and experience withdrawal symptoms when I don't get my fix or something comes in the way to interrupt it, phone calls go unanswered.

I tend to binge, reading several books in parallel. I mean to swing by the library to drop off something and spend a whole Saturday afternoon browsing - God help me if I wander into a bookstore. I have finished reading entire books at Barnes and Noble on what was supposed to have been a fly by to pick up a birthday present for some kid. Needless to say, J is left to her own devices while I am wolfing down whatever it is that I am.

I stopped reading to her regularly the moment she was able to read those Dr Seuss books on her own. Instead I pushed her to read independently and come to me when she needed help with the "big" words. She has accepted her fate with resignation though she recounts wistfully how Caitlin's mom read a story to the kids in her daycare. I am no great raconteur, so its no real loss to her. I am guilty of trying to pitch to J how reading is far superior to being read to.

Reading has always been about escape from reality and about understanding reality - I seem to have an insatiable need for both. My old fashioned parents never thought the problem was serious enough to merit therapy. Back in the day, Mom preferred to warn me of the dire consequences of sitting on my butt all day reading. The horrors ranged from extreme obesity, dementia, loss of speech, sight and hearing, chronic insomnia, multiple organ failure to premature senility. That was usually good enough to shake me out of my print induced coma and get a life.

J does not have quite the same effect when she tries to pry me out of my book saying "Mommy, I want to pretend you are my pony. Come on play with me " While she makes me feel very guilty and selfish, I don't have visions of me as a bespectacled, deranged old crone grown so wide that she can't get out the door, reading by the light of a halogen lamp while hooked to a dialysis unit - that is something only Mom can pull off. My friend D has started me on a "detox" program I think is working. The regimen includes eight to ten hours a week of mindless play with J - and that is the easiest part.


ggop said...

LOL at your mom's dire warnings!
Well, the first step for any addict's rehab is admitting it ;-)
Just kidding. Wonder what other creative things J will resort to..

Priyamvada_K said...

Agree with D's therapy. And here's a good dose of mine too ;):

Books will still be there, but J's younger years are slipping by...And what's gone never comes back.


Heartcrossings said...

GG - J is quite an artful character with many tricks up her sleve. I learn all the time :)

Priya - You sound like my mom !! You quote her verbatim when you say "Books will still be there, but J's younger years are slipping by...And what's gone never comes back" Thanks for that wake-up call :) I needed it badly.

SFGary said...

Ah, another parallel reader, I have a stash in the bathroom (most guys do), bedroom and the car; yes I read while I am on the elliptical machine. I have to swap books when I get to the last 10-15 pages because I still don't have the nerve to bring in two books to manage the transition.

My mother's warning was I would lose my eyesight if I read while lying down. I was the last in my family to need reading glasses, go figure.

Heartcrossings said...

SFG - sounds like you may have a "problem" if you have taken your reading up to the elliptical machine. Therapy may be in order before you read and drive at the same time :)

SFGary said...

Trust me, it is a requirement to alleviate the sheer boredom of a stationery machine. I am used to getting my aerobic workouts outdoors where I rarely get bored but the indoor machines can get me numb in five minutes and I've found that reading keeps me going.