Stand back and take cover because I’m on a bit of a rant.
I got up this morning and pretty soon after I stood up life began to throw a number of challenges at me. I ducked and dived, rescheduled, mopped up and re organised my day, all before 9 am. Realising I wasn’t coping too well I decided to boil the kettle and take time out. Nothing like a cup of tea to re set my dial to chill out.
Sitting in my empty, peaceful kitchen I took a deep breath and enjoyed the first sip of hot tea. Without thinking I reached for my phone and thumbed through facebook. Fatal error. I read not one but two beautifully created posts both giving the same message,
‘One of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of reading’
Why does that send me into a rage I hear you ask? Is that not true? Do I not agree?
Before having children I passionately believed this. As a child my mum told us many bedtime stories so vivid they either terrified us or led us to tears. We were brought to the library every fortnight and got money for comics each week. Many nights I remember reading a book with one ear on high alert for footsteps on the stairs, in case my parents caught me reading after bed time. I grew up to love both reading and books.
Then I too had children. I did all the above and enjoyed every minute, reliving my childhood as I read old favourites to my little ones, along with a whole library of new titles. As the years passed we discovered two of our four children had dyslexia. For them reading was a struggle and certainly no pleasure. The books they could read were below the age group they would enjoy. Instead I read to them, long past the age a parent would usually do so, before suggesting they try audio books.
By the time I finished reading to the last child I’d been reading my children stories for twenty years. Yes, twenty years!
And what reward did I get for taking the time to hand deliver the gift of reading to them for twenty years? I got four children, none of whom enjoy reading.
So perhaps you now understand when I read posts about giving our children the precious gift that is the love of reading, why I fume. It didn’t work. Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule? I know all the years I was reading them stories they seemed to really enjoy them. Looking back I don’t believe I could have done anything more. It’s a simple as this,
My children do not enjoy reading or like books.
And you know what? They are normal. They are fun, educated, articulate, interesting, and imaginative individuals. I equate them to those children who have sporty parents but who grow up uninterested in sport, or academic parents who rear a child who is carefree and artistic. They are who they are. They know how wonderful a story can be and what it is like to lose themselves in a fictional life. Yet they chose not to read.
And that is their choice. Because despite our best wishes, our children find their own ways in life. It may not be what I’d chose, but it’s their life, their way.
(But having said all that, the truth is, a small part of me will never give up and a book will continue to fall into their Christmas stockings for as long as I live.)
photo credit: sean dreilinger sometimes mom is done with storytime and ready for bed before the kids – _MG_6769.embed via photopin (license)