Anatomy of a Reading Parent

This is a little drawing I like to call “Anatomy of a Reading Parent” (or the more aptly titled “Anatomy of a Parent Attempting to Read”). Before we get into the details, a few things to keep in mind. This is, in fact, an effort at an artistic representation of real-life. However, a few things have been lost in translation (entirely the fault of the “artist”). I do not have curly hair; it was just easier to draw. I do not know why the book ended up being so tiny…feel free to interpret this as evidence that my children are of much greater significance than my books. The eye-rolling, “grrrrr” face I exhibit is purely coincidental and not at all an external representation of my internal exhaustion. All other distortions are merely proof that I should stick to the written word.

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Anatomy of a Reading Parent:

  1. Eyes. Your eyes need not bother with looking at letters on a page and combining those letters into words. You have long since memorized every captivating word of this book. This memorization will prove essential by #4 when your well-trained eyes will be needed elsewhere.
  2. Six Senses. There is a little known phenomenon called “Six Sense Reading.” Six Sense Reading is experienced while reading to children whereupon said children feel the need to demonstrate, using your precious sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, every moment they encounter in the book. Rest assured, your senses will be assaulted.
  3. Voice. Your voice is arguably the most vital part of the “reading parent.” Will you use inflection? If so, to what degree? Will you voice each character differently? Accents, anyone? At what speed will you read? The possibilities are limitless, but you will find your voice is not.
  4. The Provoker. This child will not rest until each and every person involved has been poked, prodded, and irritated. He or she will not limit their provocation to physical intervention, they will shake the chair, wave their hands in front of the page, and disrupt in any way their imagination leads. It leads far.
  5. The Word Tracker. Do not be fooled by this child’s youth. The fact that they may not be able to read is inconsequential. They know the order of every word on every page of every book you own. This child seems to listen, not for the sake of the story, but only to ensure the correct words are said in the correct order at all times. There will be no flubbing, editing, or skipping pages on their watch.
  6. Legs. Did you wonder why my legs did not continue all the way to the feet in the picture above? It is because they fell off at the knee due to lack of circulation. The constant pressure of any number of children on your lap while reading any number of books can cause you to lose all feeling in the legs. Be advised, standing up immediately after reading in this manner can be hazardous to your health.
  7. The Climber. Beware the climber. Havoc will be left in their wake. They will be on your lap, your shoulders, the other side of your lap, your head, your feet. You will lose hair, your glasses will break, and your arms will bruise. Good luck.
  8. The Book. It matters not the title of the book you so carefully chose. The book (and all books) will be universally known as, “Again.”
  9. The Sneak Peeker. The elusive sneak peeker will make every attempt to listen unseen. They think themselves too old for picture books and too cool for listening to you read. But the rustling pages draws them out. The moment you feel the need to look over your shoulder, you will know the sneak peeker has arrived.
  10. Sleep Reading. After hours of reading, your mind will begin to be lulled to sleep by cadence of your own remarkable reading voice. At this point, the reading parents’ mind does something truly amazing. It turns on auto-pilot allowing you to continue reading, albeit in mumbled fashion, while being asleep. Do not worry about your child’s ability to understand your garbled words. In the same way the mind is able to fill in missing letters while reading, a child’s mind is able to fill in the missing sounds while listening.

And so, it would seem that to have well worn pages we must also have well worn bodies.

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Books of the Week

I have ended this week with an overwhelming sense that I am too old: too old for human interaction, too old for the world we live in, too old for the never-ending hype. At the ripe *old* age of 39, I find myself increasingly baffled by the goings on around me. Everyday closer to 40 is a step deeper into the embodiment of a curmudgeon. Cases in point:

Too old for human interaction:

While standing in a very long line at Disneyland, I was desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to encourage the whining children towards patience and endurance. I explained that learning to wait in long lines was simply a part of being at Disneyland (a statement they did not take kindly to). An overly eager stranger then chimed in, “Welcome to the happiest place on earth.” I genuinely laughed, appreciating his humor. UNTIL he said, “Oh wait, we should say, ‘Long lines at Disney.’ hashtag happiestplaceonearth.” HOLD ON, WHAT?! This dude just used the word “hashtag” in a conversation. He changed a perfectly fine sentence into a tweet, out loud and on purpose. Ummm, no. I am way too old to have a conversation of this nature.

Too old for the world we live in:

The other day the teenage boys across the street were staring at their car in, what appeared to be, great distress. In a completely appropriate, unstalkery way, I watched to see what their frustration was about. The car had a flat tire. These two teenage boys stood there unable to figure out what to do next. They stared, they bent down, they tried to unscrew lug nuts with their hands, they stared, they looked under the car, they scratched their heads. They did all manner of irrelevant things. And I realized I live in a world where teenage boys have no idea how to change a flat tire. Ummm, no. I am way too old for this.

Too old for the never-ending hype:

One of my daughters went to the orthodontist this week to get braces. This is an extremely common place event for later elementary school age children living in the United States. And yet, it is necessary to “hype” even this. Now, before you think me cold-hearted, I do understand that the adults are trying to help the kids not feel so self conscious and embarrassed by the metal in their mouths. As a former braces wearer, I appreciate the gesture. However, when I see my daughter’s name on a huge sign that says, “You wear your new braces #likeaboss.” {groan} I begin to question where it has all gone wrong. Now we use “like a boss” to encourage our young children. I am way too old for this.

In the midst of all this absurdity, I have had some redeeming interactions…with books. This week, my children and I have come across a few “new to us” books that have been thoroughly enjoyable and genuinely interesting. I am never too old for this!

Picture Books of the Week:

1. The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers – Not unlike the night gardener himself, this book brings a little joy and beauty to a weary world. The illustrations are fantastic and the story is kind and hopeful.

2. Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson – When a group of 3 and 4 year old boys brought this book to me to read, I was skeptical. But from the first page to the last, they were hooked. They participated, enthralled by their magical abilities to create the next page.

3. Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian – This book follows the tale of a lonely and bored goldfish who finds himself increasingly accompanied and mediating dramas galore. It is a funny and very entertaining read.

4. Go, Little Green Truck! by Ron Schotter – Ever wondered what happens to the beloved farm vehicles once a new, bigger, stronger vehicle comes along? This is the charming tale of one such vehicle. Look out for the “easter egg” paying homage to one of childrens’ literature’s most beloved farm girls.

5. Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolen – Thunder Rose is a super hero story for all little girls (and boys) to be inspired by. The amazing illustrations of Kadir Nelson bring this story to life remarkably.

Chapter Book of the Week:

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – Wolf Hollow follows 12 year old Annabelle as she navigates farm and school life during wartime, being the victim of bullying, and seeing the best in a person written off by everyone else. It is beautifully written.

May your family find these as enjoyable as we did.

Welcome, 2017!

2017 is here. It arrived without the gradual, partial week easing into the New Year. It arrived without a week that started as December and ended as January to give me the illusion of buffer days. Buffer days to transition from holiday glutton to super-serious-self-discipline girl. 2017 put its metaphorical foot down and demanded attention. A clean break from 2016.

The problem is, I need those buffer days. I did not know it five days ago but I was not ready. Oh, I was ready for the much belabored 2016 to be over and done with but, apparently, I was not at all prepared for the stringent, immediate approach of 2017. I needed a minute or day to formulate my thoughts and tempt fate through the making of resolutions.

Several years ago I made a not-so-shocking personal discovery. I do not keep my New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I never had any *real* intention of keeping them. Ever. While I understood the concept of forward thinking and setting goals, the whole process felt strict and sterile. In an effort to retain the principals of “New Year’s Resolutions” without the overbearingness of it all, I decided long ago to limit my goals to a single, more fluid, open to interpretation, attainable word.

One year ago, I determined that 2016 was to be brought to me by: drama. Just kidding. How prophetic would that have been?! In all seriousness, one year ago, my two words (yes, I know I just emphasized the whole “single word” thing but sometimes a year calls for more) for 2016 were: apologize and courage. I failed miserably attempting to learn to apologize more quickly, more sincerely, and without sarcasm. But the courage one, the courage one was a success.

The fact that I love to read is well known but until last year, very few knew that I enjoy writing *almost* as much. Due to life circumstances (see also “babies”) and my fear of public failure, I have written only in my imagination for many years. For a long time, this blog was a part of that imagination. But in 2016, feeling the need to do something courageous, Well Worn Pages became a reality. While not perfect and still very much a work in progress, I consider it a success that there is even real progress to be had.

And so now after actually beginning something I set out to do, I find myself hesitating with this new year.

But we are four days in already, and as usual, I do not have time to hesitate. With that in mind, my words (yes, again with the plural) for 2017 are: organization and self-discipline.  Self-discipline to keep writing, keep focused, and keep ahead when all I want to do is sit down, read a book or ten, and eat chocolates. I have question marks about this one. I foresee “Apologize: Redux” in my future. Surprisingly, my hopes are set on organization…mostly because I have already started. Here are the kid’s bookshelves before and after:

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It is a start. And starting is the hardest part, right?!