'The Reading Corner': How a Small Rug Became a Local LegendSerge Bielanko
If you ever happened to be over at our place and my daughter Violet snags you to come read some Clifford the Big Red Dog or some Yertle The Turtle to her, chances are you will end up sitting your butt down on the dead Muppet skin rug.
Well, at least that’s what it looks like to me.
To be completely straight with you, the first time I saw the thing, as my wife was yanking it out of the over-sized plastic bag she hauled it back from the store in, I was pretty sure she was joking around.
It is a shaggy beast, something you would find in the woods and hand over as proof that yes: there are Bigfoots out there; and yes: this is some kind of part of one.
Except it’s color is weird for going undetected in forests, I guess. It’s hot pink meets hot purple.
It’s ‘hot purkle’.
Anyway, what do I know, right? My wife carried it upstairs and kicked some flash cards and some plastic lions and elephants aside and set it down on the floor of Violet’s bedroom and smiled and said, “There Violet! Now you have your very own ‘Reading Corner’!”
My daughter was smitten.
She and her mom piled up some old couch pillows and stuffed Buzz-Lightyear-Who-Bleeds-White-Stuffing and stuffed Snoopy and a bunch of books and Violet flopped herself down on all of it and closed her eyes and it was pretty obvious that she had found her new hangout. It was pretty clear that she’d be taking most of her meetings right there, leaning back against the soft colorful mountain overlooking the ‘hot purkle’ prairie from now on.
And so it is.
I was made a believer right then and there of course, but let me tell you something else.
Even if I had had my doubts that a simple fifteen or twenty dollar area rug could help tie a kid’s room together, could magically transform a once neglected corner of space into a charming little land where Dr. Seuss and his kind rule the kingdom,… well, after just one visit of my own, when I leaned back into the arms of those pillows and felt my daughter smoosh up against me as she pressed her ragged copy of Danny and the Dinosaur to my chest and sighed, ‘Read it to me , Daddy,”… dude, I was sold; a fan for life; an honorary librarian down in the ‘Reading Corner’ and damn proud of it, too.
Now, there are nights when I go in to kiss my daughter goodnight only to find her bed completely empty. Then, I’ll turn a step to right and there she is, fast asleep, dreaming her toddler dreams of chocolate-covered chocolates and monsters and stuff, curled up upon the pillows in her little corner of the world.
Naturally, the taste of success tingling sweetly on our tongues, her mom and me decided that her little brother Henry could have a reading corner too. We went to The Home Depot and went back to the flooring section and we were there maybe thirty-three seconds when I spotted this rug in the back of the store and Shazam!
By knowing it was the rug for him I’m not saying Henry wouldn’t dig something super-furry or hot ‘purkle’ either. It’s just that this one had a super cool small village on it, complete with trains and trucks and a garage and roads and….ummm…a hotdog stand and an ice cream stand.
So, when I saw all of that I already knew I was buying the thing for myself. But I’d likely have a hard time placing it with my wife always around and all, I figured, so in a flash of minor brilliance it occurred to me that I might as well just share it with my son.
I bought it (like 14 bucks on sale! Whaaaaa?!). I took it home and I threw it in Henry’s bedroom corner and lobbed a few comfy pillows over there with his stuffed Winnie The Pooh and some books he liked to look at or chew on, depending on his mood, and just like that: we were in serious business.
He loved it.
Problem was, Violet did too. Oh brother. She carried on and cried and gurgled out that she wanted that rug too now. After a while, I decided to just call her bluff.
“Okay!,” I announced to her. “I’ll just get your reading corner rug and give it to Henry and he’ll have that one and you can have this one!”
I went and got the dead Muppet and brought him into Henry’s room.
“Here Henry…,” I started but that’s as far as I got. Violet ripped her ‘purkle’ friend from my arms and screeched with fury at my gall and took off back toward her room, with her rug from her Reading Corner/the ORIGINAL Reading Corner, and that was basically the end of that.
Two kids found their own little space.
Two whippersnappers each found a place of their own, a tucked-away spot where they could stretch out and flip though some cool stories or have tea with a dinosaur or take a nap on a big red heart pillow in the late afternoon, when all of that being a kid stuff caught up with them and they just needed a bit of time to themselves, to lay their heads down on their soft rug and dream a little dream.