I’ve been locked in a pretty exhausting,
frustrating infuriating battle with La Grande over the past couple of years when it comes to reading. You see, I’m an avid obsessive reader and it has always been my dream to raise children that are as passionate about the written word as I am. I was an early reader as a child and, truth be told, reading is my thing…the way math is not my thing.
And I knew, deep in my book shaped heart, I was going to have children that were just as down right committed to books as I am.
The Universe, in its infinite wisdom, had other plans for me. Oh, yes. Despite the fact that I put in the time reading to La Grande, lauding the merits of books, and gushing about how much she’ll love reading this title and that…but, when it came time to begin handing over the reins and bestowing her with the foundation for becoming an independent reader…things took a nasty turn. On my part.
Me + La Grande + Reading = Brick Wall
Our reading related conversations:
Me: “Okay! Let’s go grab a book and read!”
La Grande: <scowling> “Noooo! I don’t want to read right now!”
Me: “Come on! Go pick out any book and let’s take a relaxing break!”
La Grande: “Mo-om! I just want to color or something right now.”
Me: “Let’s sound this out.”
La Grande: “This is just TOOO hard!!!”
Me: “You’ve got this! You just read this word two pages ago!”
La Grande: “I just don’t feel like reading right now.”
Me: “We’re doing this now, get a book.”
La Grande: <slowly drags her feet as she goes to the book shelf>
<La Grande slouches further and further down the couch until half of her body is hanging off>
Me: Sit up. It will make it easier to focus on your reading.
<She scoots up in the most ridiculous manner possible>
Me: “Try holding the book still and not wriggling. Do you have ants in your pants?”
<Looks at me like I asked her if she has worms coming out of her nose…continues reading but volume falls off to a whisper>
Me: “Please read a little louder, I can’t hear you.”
La Grande: “Ugh, I just don’t want to read THIS book.”
Regardless of which conversation loop we engaged in, they all ended the same way.
- I’d ask her to stop reading and put the book away <cue giant “but I want to read now” protests>
- Accuse her of not really putting forth her best effort <cue yes-I-am-it’s-just-too-hard-loop begins>
- Eventually wind up snatching up her book, yelling at her for being obstinate, and sending her to her room before I truly lost it.
Parenting From A Place of Fear
“Fear leads to anger, Anger leads to hate, Hate leads to Suffering…” -Yoda
The reading rumble sent me into a fear spiral.
What if she doesn’t like reading and then she gets horrible grades and then she comes to hate school, and then she never goes to college, and then none of our dreams for her ever come true and then my parents think I’m a failure, and then what if La Rubia winds up being more academically gifted what will that do to La Grande’s self esteem? What if this is all my fault? Maybe I should’ve read more, got rid of cable, played more sight-word flash cards…oh my gosh…what if I did this by deciding to work? Maybe I needed to invest more time in doing all the developmental stuff I thought was overkill? What have I done?
My fear started to control how I handled the whole reading debacle. I was getting angrier and angrier. I hated…HATED sitting down for reading time…I didn’t want to battle, but I wasn’t willing to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, La Grande didn’t like reading. Unacceptable.
Reading was exhausting. Draining. Torture. I didn’t think I would survive through the end of Kindergarten.
I realized that the more she resisted, the more scared I became and the angrier I got. And the angrier I got, the more negative our reading sessions became. She would never want to read if I continued to engage her like this. Hell, I didn’t want to read due to the residual bad ju-ju left over from our battles. I knew something had to give.
When the school year ended, I decided we’d take a break from mom-initiated reading. Yep. No more daily reading schedule.
As the end of the summer drew near, we hadn’t done a whole lot of reading at all. Part of me was scared that she’d forgotten her foundational sight words but I decided to ignore that nagging feeling…
Learning how to pick my battles has been one of the most valuable tools in my parenting arsenal…
Houston, We Have A Reader
With the new school year starting, I just wasn’t sure how the whole first-grade reading thing was going to work out. Like all schools, they want us reading daily (shoot me now) on top of the barrage of homework raining down on the work week (why?!). I was D-R-E-A-D-I-N-G the whole schoolwork routine.
Turns out, I’m a pretty big drama queen.
I can’t tell you how exactly it all worked out. I’m not sure if it was my willingness to let go or that La Grande finally succumbed to the magic and allure of the written word…or that she just wanted to do it on her own time (my vote).
I’d bought her a couple of Junie B. Jones books on the off hand chance that she might be interested in them…they seemed like they’d connect with her. I mean, come on, Junie B. Jones, First Grade At Last, can’t get any more relevant than that, right? But rather than push them at her, I nonchalantly left them on the breakfast counter and never mentioned them to her.
Of course, she immediately asked, “Are those for me?”
I answered, “Not necessarily, but you’re welcome to check them out if you’d like.”
“Oh, okay, Mom.”
I am proud to report that this past weekend, my big girl ran down the stairs, chapter book in hand, bookmark tassel blowing in the wind, asking me if it was okay if she read while she ate her morning bowl of cereal.
I think she’s going to be just fine.
What are your biggest battles? How do you keep yourself from parenting from a place of fear? Successes? Moments of frustration? No judgement here!
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