One of the highlights for me, being a book addict, is the anual bookfair in Antwerp! I try to stay away because I end up spending a fortune there. Most of the books you can buy there are in Dutch so when I was graduated I did not go because I had my English bookstores in Leuven, Brussels and the Fnac. But you try to look for excuses and mine is 4,5 years old, about one meter of height and loves a good read!
The first years that A was on this globe I drove there at my own and was able to make my own selection. And yes, it were books that I loved because of the storyline, the content, the drawings and the lay-out! I even went through magazines and newspapers to find out what the bestsellers were for toddlers. Clavis, Davidsfonds, Lannoo, De Eenhoorn and children bookstores De Olifant and Poespas were the lucky ones to get their hands on my money.
A had no choice he had to love these books! He seemed to make no objections and 9 out 10 books he approved of. This little intelectual-to-be made these books then his personal property by adding his own artwork, scratching out words that he found useless and stamping leftovers of his lunch on the pages. The ones that made it on his bestsellers list were dragged into his bedroom.
But time flies by and now A has his own opinion about what he will wear, eat, drink, watch, visit and also read. This meant that I was not in the position to drive on my own to Antwerp. The little rascal was going to check out this bookheaven and make his own personal selection! His mother then had to make sure that he wouldn't get lost amongst all the other hundreds or rather thousands of potential bookbuyers. I can already picture myself with the red cheeks that I am going to show up with at lost and found! And then I still have to mention the typical traps for those younger clients being gadgets, snacks, games, dvd's and tons of stuff that is not a book but makes kids go wild!
Like you can read the prospect of taking A there made me getting sweaty palms. This was not going to be an easy stroll amongst publishers and taking long glances at the recent releases! No this was going to be a funride at the highest speed!
A first of all did not like the prospect of having to walk to the fair. This is not like finding a parking spot when going grocery shopping. I explained him that there were no parking spaces close by but that it was worth the distance. By the time we made it to the entrance he already mentioned the fact that his tummy was making akward noises! But huray A got in for free and I got a 2 euros discount because of my Student ID! Good start!
'Mum, where are the funrides and were are the pencils that I can make drawings with!' All I could do whas shrug my shoulders and hope that he would find out this was a nice place to hang out for a bit. It didn't take him a long or he noticed the first books. I started to pray, hoping that he was going to stay now focused. While walking amongst tons of children books I started to notice the other bookidiots, the heat and the less appealling noises of the fair. I started to sweat and had to get rid of my coat, scarf and A his bonnet and cardigan!
By then A had overtaken some people and started to yell! 'Mum, where are you? ', and he stopped in the middle of a alley filled up with kids, books, toys, puppets, games, grown ups, salespeople and last but not least prams! I hate people that bring their kid in one of these. They keep you from attacking the one book you after in order to make the buy of the year!
Thanks to my son there was a major traffic jam caused by him. Behind him was a young couple with pram. 'Please, Alexander let the lady pass!'. While I was saying this I took a closer look at the father who was lingering next to his beloved wife and baby. 'Uhm, I know this guy but where from?' 'What do you think Brian? Should we get her some or not?' 'Did she just say Brian? And she has got curly blond hair! I only know one combination of a blond girl with curls with a gigantic guy named Brian and a pram!
My son is blocking the way of Kim Clijsters&Co! A was not aware of what the sporty identity was of the people waiting behind him to move. He then noticed some games and screamed:'Look, mum that I want!' Big surprise? It was no book. A was pointing at some toy cooking utensils! By the time Kim, Brian and their sleeping beauty Jada Ellie had passed by my son was baking hambugers on the barbecue! While he was preparing his food Kim made a personal selection for her daughter Jada and then yelled at Brian for her wallet.
A seemed not to be interested in this spectacle and also not in the books. It took some time to push him on and I had to bribe him with a car stickerbook and Smurfs book before he wanted to take a more earnest look at children's litterature!
Two hours later and many more obstacles (that I am not going to mention) we ended up in the car with three plastic bags filled up with books. I am happy to announce that most of these were chosen by my son. He ended up with four books and I with two!
A is now asleep and already turned his stickerbook into a personal item with artistic touches. He was very happy whith his smurfbook and he loved the Fanta he was allowed to drink as a special treat! No mention of the two serious books we had picked out. My personal highlight of the day was the moment when we walked back to the car and A asked very seriously:'Mum, have I been a good boy?' 'Yes, you have been good boy!' A trip to remember and not just because of the books! We will be back next year and I already wonder whose way A will block then?!