Summer rose up sticky and sudden this week. The blissful temperate spring lingered so long this year. Days, weeks, and months of 70-80s with warmth in the sun and cool in the shade. Pack-a-sweater-for-the-morning-and-evening-and-you’re-comfortable-all-day-long weather deliciously lasted and lasted and lengthened on to the point I could postpone the realization that the temperature would soon spike and school would soon close for the season. That came this week. Yesterday at noon I was considering the air conditioner for reprieve. Usually I welcome feeling hot enough to want to swim and the break from school scheduling, but this year I caught myself saying ugh, dragging my heels a bit into summer because of one last thing I was sure was coming, but hasn’t happened yet. I thought my daughter would be reading. She isn’t.
At the library counter we registered for the summer reading program and she quietly told them how old she was, where she went to school, and she’d like the cheap miniature magnifying glass as her first prize; I quietly asked them if books I read to her counted. Four summers back when she was still in a baby carrier strapped across my back, I stood proudly with my son at the library counter, so excited to sign him up as a first time independent reader for the same program.
I know, I know, I know that comparing children is a huge no-no, but it’s almost impossible not to see one child as a measure to suppose what another might be like. I’m embarrassed that I feel so sheepish that my daughter is finishing kindergarten without passing (what I thought was) the benchmark achievement for that first year of school, the one my older one did much sooner. She was the one who asked for help with reading two years before kindergarten, I proudly bought some basic books and we set to work to fulfill her goal. She lost interest and I followed her lead, and continued reading voraciously to her, certain she’d regain interest in independent reading shortly. It’s been two and a half years since then, and we’ve lapped the bookshelves at our house, powering through picture books, chapter books and series, she sits happily beside me and listens (and pleads) for any hours I can lend her my reading abilities and still no. She hasn’t.
At school, while helping at an activity table, I could see her teacher with another group, marking their places in the entry level chapter book they had been reading in turn. I confess my disappointment, my daughter wasn’t tucked into that circle, or even the next level down. I wanted so much for my girl to read, to hit that rite of passage, but she hasn’t. I wonder if she minds?
I’ve read a mess of articles that make me panic or give me peace. There is a lot written on the subject of late bloomers and learning to read. I’ve wondered if I’ve done something wrong. I have a reputation as a reader (I assumed they would too). I’m forever plowing through books on my own and aloud to kids, but and my six and a half year old still is not. I’m concerned and she’s not; all my anxiety is my own. Like the school year and spring cool, it’s time to let relax and realize in time things will turn, just maybe not when I thought they would.
“Mom,” Lucy says emphatically, shaking her copper head of hair for effect as she tugs my hands away from the computer where I was writing, “read to me.” She’s begging not so gently, shoving the final book in the Little House series into my lap and in place of my laptop.
Cleaning out the loft I find a copy of If You Give A Cat A Cupcake she has painstakingly recreated, writing out all the text in ragged capital letters, and drawn the illustrations as her own creation, a masterpiece that may infringe a few copyrights, but sets me in awe.
No, she’s not reading, but she’ll be ready soon.
I love reading so much, I can’t take the pleasure from it and force it too soon or too much. I’d hate to siphon any of joy of reading to fuel my jealous hope she’d read early or even when I was ready.
Do you struggle to let your children do things in their own timing? When did you and your children learn to read, and what do you love to read?