Before Bebe goes to bed, she reads a book. When she wakes up, Bebe reads a book then, too.
Most people tell Bebe not to read so much. They say it will hurt her eyes or that she’ll get flabby from sitting around all day. Her mother says reading in the morning is just an excuse to be lazy. Bebe kindly disagrees.
“Mama,” Bebe glances over the spine of her hardcover, “I really don’t see what the problem is with my reading at the table.”
“It sets the tone for the day. If you want to read to go to sleep, fine. But reading when you wake up? Your head’s always somewhere else.” Bebe’s mother is not at the table. She’s pouring coffee into her favorite black mug to drink before she leaves and into her granite travel mug to take with her to work. Her spoon clinks a few times against the side of the mugs and then clatters loudly in the sink.
“I like the tone I’m setting.”
“You have to speak louder, Bebe!” Bebe’s mother was running her hands under the faucet. The handle squeaked back off and she was on to frying eggs and fresh salsa into a hot pan.
“I like my routine! It’s calming.”
Her mother scrapes the spatula round the spattering pan. “Mija, I know. But your teachers say you read during class. You’re a smart girl but you need to apply yourself.”
Bebe’s book clamps shut. “Mama,” she frowns, “Do you remember how I used to be? How I used to spend my mornings?”
She could see her mother’s shoulders rise and fall. Bebe returned to her book.
Quietly, her mother sneaks a plate of huevos and tortilla under her nose. “It’s a quick breakfast, but you need to eat.”
Bebe pushes her book aside as her mother sits at the table with only her coffee.
“Mama, aren’t you going to eat?”
She blows at her coffee. “You go ahead. I’m trying to diet.”
“Okay, give me your fork. I’ll have a bite.” Her mother scoops up some egg and washes it down with a little coffee.
Bebe blew at her food. “Have you ever tried to blow on ice cream like it was something hot?” she said, dishing some egg warm egg into her mouth. “Mr. Reyes says we do it because we’re trying to get the ice cream the same temperature as our breath.”
“Is Mr. Reyes the only teacher you listen to?”
Bebe blushes. Her mother cackles.
“I’m sorry, baby. Go ahead. What is this about ice cream?”
“Well… I was thinking… that reading, is a lot like that. When I get too hot or too cold, reading helps bring me up or down. That’s why I like to start my day that way. I don’t know. Does that make any sense?”
Her mother sips at her coffee. “No. Not really. But I’m just happy for you that you’re not skipping school anymore.” She sighs, looking at the microwave clock. “If being a bookworm makes you happy, then I’m happy.”
Bebe smiles with her head down and eats faster. Her mother slides her chair out. “But do me one favor, Bebe?” She leans over and kisses her on the forehead. “Mr. Reyes isn’t the only teacher that is trying to make you smarter. Keep your books in your backpack, okay?”
Bebe rolls her eyes. “Okay.”
Her mother kisses her on the cheek. “Oh. You taste like huevos.”
“And your breath smells like coffee.”
Bebe’s mother swats the back of her head. “Vamos, bookworm. You have a bus to catch.”