Jan 31, 2011

Reading and Children

1/31/2011 — cori

I have many, many opinions on this subject. I am actually extremely passionate about it. And to think it all happened by 'accident'.

Many moons ago, when I was pregnant with my firstborn, a teacher friend of mine gave me a book titled, "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. I devoured the book. I had never given that much thought to reading to children, much less reading aloud to them. That was the beginning of our long, wonderful journey into the world of reading and children and the joy that comes with it.

I immediately signed up for the Grolier Book of the Month Club when I was still pregnant. I wanted Gavin's bookshelf stocked with appropriate reading material. At the time, it consisted of all the best Dr. Seuss had to offer. I received several board books for baby showers. I was bound and determined to do this parent thing right and by golly, I'm going to be the best read aloud mommy ever.

So, it will come as no surprise that Chuck found me sitting on the bed with Gavin propped up on my legs while I was holding a black, white and red board book above him talking about the pictures and 'reading to him'. All this and he was only 2 weeks old. Poor kid. He can't help how he turned out. He was destined to be in love with books from day one. He had no choice. The book told me to read to him - so that's what I did. I so desperately wanted to be such a good mommy...not having a clue as to how to do this whole parent thing, this was something I knew I could do, so I just ran with it.

Over a decade later, I've seen the fruit of those first, obsessive-compulsive years of my initiation into parenthood. Reading together has become a part of our love language. We all love to sit snuggled up and read a good book together or apart. We love to talk about our books - with anyone who will listen. We appreciate a good book sale. We treasure our personal libraries. All because some sweet person had the foresight to encourage a new mom to read to her kid.

Kids minds soar when they read. It takes their imagination to new levels. Their creativity levels go through the roof. Freedom to think outside the box is a beautiful gift. If a new movie comes out, my children ask to read the book first because, and I quote, they "don't want the movie to ruin their imagination of what the book is really like." Love it. Time alone with their thoughts is essential. It's how they grow and process new ideas and discoveries.

Gavin's voracious reading habits are no secret. Neither is Chloe's teaching herself to read at 4 and reading so prim and proper. But Bennett got bitten by the reading bug a little later. He's always loved reading with me. But he was never one to read much on his own until recently. Well, now he's gone and exceeded his own expectations. He started the book "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini, all on his own. If I had told him, "Bennett, I want you to read a 497 page book that's really cool all on your own" it never, ever, ever would have happened. But, because he's interested (another passion of mine - interest driven learning), he's reading this monster book all on his own - and loving it!

Any time he meets one of his friends for a playdate or anything, the first thing out of his mouth is, "Have you read Eragon yet? It was written by a 15 year old boy. It's really cool." So far, none of his friends have initiated a conversation about the merits of the book. But I have a feeling if he just keeps asking, someday, somewhere, someone will engage him in a lively conversation about this amazing book. Until then, Gavin will have to do. They discuss the book over lunch, dinner, playtime. They speak the language from the glossary. Chloe and I may break down and read it just so we don't feel left out anymore.

To quote C.S. Lewis, "We read to know we are not alone."

The Trunk Incident

1/31/2011 — cori

Today we were leaving the house and had to bring the dog with us. Bennett was in charge of getting her in the "trunk". With the type of suv/car we have, it's more like a 3rd row seat instead of a trunk. He had to open the hatchback (which is quite tall), which opens up toward the ceiling, inside the garage. He was trying to get her in there, when he decides it might be better to open the garage door so she has more room to jump up. It's a rather tight fit inside our garage. So, he goes to open the garage door and all of the sudden we hear this metal creaking noise. Not good.

You know the sound metal makes when it is being crumpled? Ya...that was the noise. Have I ever mentioned how well I do in crisis situations? Never. Exactly - there's a reason for that. I don't do crisis situations. I'm probably one of the worst panic-ers in the world.

I hear the dreaded noise. My heart stops. I race from inside the house out to the garage where I behold the garage door and my trunk door in a fight to the death. The trunk door has halted the garage door's steep climb to the top. Oh crap! That was literally my first response.

Now things start to get interesting. Bennett has melted in utter tears over his fateful mistake and seeing his mother looking clueless as to how to fix it. Gavin is standing at the entry to the garage with an awestruck (not the good kind) look permanently affixed to his face. He handles panic situations even worse than I do - he freezes up. So, I get the only other coherent person (Chloe - who is asking a ton of questions about what is going on - "Mommy doesn't have time to answer you right now Honey, I'm in panic mode.") to grab the dog who is literally shaking out of control. She somehow thinks she caused this whole ruckus.

At the same time....the phone rings. Why on earth I even answered it, I have no clue...must be a habit. Anyways, it was Chuck calling about something no where near as important as my current situation. I have no clue about what he said because I was too busy yelling into the phone, "Right now is not a good time for me to talk, Baby, because I'm in kinda in the middle of a little crisis situation here." You know how your voice gets a little high pitched and shaky in these small moments of stress. Chuck could hear by the sound of my voice that I was indeed in the middle of my own personal, small meltdown. The only thing I heard on the other end of the line was, "Do I need to come home?"

"No. It's no big deal, the garage door and the trunk door are stuck together and I can't pull them apart and we're in the middle of trying to sell our house and we don't need another major expense, such as a new garage door right now. I'm just trying to pry the trunk door out from the grasp of the garage. No problem-I can do this." He didn't have the benefit of seeing my tongue-in-cheek.

"Okay then. Call me back." Oh the pins and needles he must have sat on for the duration of the time it took me to call him back.

Seems like all my motivational thinking was working. I suddenly had the idea to move the car forward (farther into the garage - but not thru the wall) to 'untie' the two pieces of metal. Actually, I have to give credit to where credit is due. I can't think in panic situations. So, obviously, it was God dropping a miraculous tid-bit of clear thinking/reasoning abilities into my numb brain in order to enable it to work in the fashion he created it for for just this sort of situation.

Voila. It worked. The garage door continued its trek northward without any more obstacles and the trunk door was free to stay attached to the car once again. The collision noise I mentioned earlier appeared to sound worse than it actually looked. There was barely a dent in the garage door and the trunk door had the tiniest of scratch marks. No harm. No foul. My worse-case-scenario mind made a mountain out of a mole-hill yet again.

The rest of the day was spent with Bennett and I apologizing to each other. He kept telling me how sorry he was. I kept telling him how sorry I was. The funny thing was though, we were both apologizing for the same thing: panicking. I guess I know who got my gene.

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