Time on “Trial”

Spring hasn’t caught up to the school calendar. I was home with my daughter for the first day of spring break. Originally scheduled as a vacation day, the stomach flu that’s been making its way through legions of little bellies had its way with my girl. Determined to advance progress on getting our place tidy to put up for sale, I took advantage of the ill conceived down time. I worked all day, taking things down from the walls, tossing things out, while trying to keep a certain someone hydrated. Fortunately, she had moments of perkiness. “Mom, can you play ball with me?” “Want to play a game?” “Can you read to me?”

Read to her? It’s been a while since my fifth grader asked me to read to her. After an entire day of nonstop multitasking, I halted and took a breath. Time isn’t one to slow down. Nor am I. Always. There are always things that must get done. Yesterday. Such a cliche, this life of always racing, desperately trying to get everything that matters in. On schedule. On time. In time. Hoping to not run out of time. Here she was, the person that matters most, asking me for my time. Of course. Of course, I would stop. How could I not?

I picked up a book from one of the many piles; how about this? “The Trial” by Jen Bryant, complete with a personalized autograph, picked up from the Princeton Children’s Book Festival last year. It was written in verse, a style I adore. And, so, the reading, and “The Trial” began.

12-year-old aspiring reporter Katie Leigh Flynn prays for something exciting to happen to her hometown of Flemington. She gets her wish in January 1935, when Bruno Richard Hauptmann is brought to trial for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son. After breaking his arm, Katie’s uncle, a reporter for local newspaper, needs someone to take notes for him and convinces his sister and single mom to let Katie take time off from school to be present for the trial.

Reading the letters that formed the words that formed the patterns that formed the rhythms that formed the pace reminded me so starkly of… my voice. Reading out loud required time to slow down. It required me to stop. It required me to listen to the sound. Simply, I felt joy. I think it was apparent as my girl asked for a turn every now and again. She told me I could stop whenever I wanted. But, I didn’t. I just wanted our moments that were birthing other moments to go on and to share in the words, the rhythm, the story, and our story. In between those pages, there were poems (or chapters) that spoke to both of us. Through those words, we were able to touch on words that we, ourselves, couldn’t say to each other.

Time is always on trial. It’s got one constant: it’s always moving. How we move with it or against it is something we don’t always have control over. But, when we do, we should treasure it.

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