There’s no doubt by now that the world knows I’m a lover of books, of words, of writing. I’ll read anything I can get my hands on if I’m bored enough. I’ve read through every bottle, box, & can in my pantry, all of the hair care products in the bathroom, every sign on every building & road between here & Timbuktu….. well, you get the point. I’m very ashamed of Cliff Notes, they’ve taken magic out of having to read a whole book, word for word.
I started off reading Dr Seuss at 3.5yrs old. By 2nd grade I had devoured the entire Boxcar Chidren series. I was introduced to The Babysitters Club in 3rd grade, which kept me occupied between classics like Judy Blum & Old Yeller. By 5th grade, I had finished off the entire fiction section of chapter books in my elementary school library.
By middle school, my love for books developed into a love of writing words, shaping them into short stories & poems. I read every book in my house, including my stepmom’s collection of Stephen King novels & my dad’s Physician’s Desk Reference book, all 6,000 pages of it.
No matter where life has taken me, I could always escape into a book or my own writing. It helped me get through several deaths of friends, the verbal abuse of my father, the rejection I felt from classmates or my stepdad’s extended family. So when I found myself pregnant the first time, I jumped on the “Please bring a book to start my baby’s library” bandwagon when I filled out my baby shower invitations. How could I not pass down my passion to my own child? And sure enough, this kid growing inside me had a pretty envious library before he even entered the world! Dr. Seuss’s entire collection of stories filled an entire bookcase. Another was filled with chunky, chew friendly books & classics such as Goodnight Moon, Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, & Just In Case You Ever Wonder. There was even a shelf full of old fairytales & Brother’s Grimm stories. I was so geeked to show my son the wonders within each bound cover. From the moment he popped outta me, I would read to him as I rocked him to settle him down. When his brother joined us barely a year later, I found it relaxing to plop em both on my lap & spend our time reading the day away together.
So here we are, ten years later, & struggling with those same boys who loved to hear me make up silly voices for each character we read. Struggling to keep them focused on school, keep their grades acceptable, keep them at their appropriate grade level for all things. Math is a piece of cake for the oldest & comes naturally to him. The younger one grasps it almost as easily. What is it that they are floundering in most? Reading, writing, & spelling! It’s like living in a waking nightmare. How can it be that I did everything in my power to raise reader’s yet I have two boys with refusing to touch a book on their own accord, with levels two grades behind?
When they were in kindergarten & first grades, I attended every seminar our school district & our intermediate-school district held about sharing the love of reading with your child & I would roll my eyes & scoff under my breath at some of the implications in their teachings, because I had already surpassed those stepping stones with my boys. I’d bash other parents in my head while listening to the spiel, thinking I had this all downpat, that it would never be my kids that needed the intervention programs within the school program for at-risk kids. I never, for a second, contemplated the fact that my kids would be classified as at-risk one day.
Here we are in fourth & fifth grades with that dreaded label attached to them. I’ve tried every bribe, every punishment, every suggested technique, to get them to pick up a book & read. They cry. They scream. They storm throughout the house, slamming doors, pushing the younger siblings about, & destroying toys, being angry & bitter because they have to read for twenty, pathetic, minutes. I cry. I scream & yell. I feel like a parenting failure, because I can’t do one of the only jobs required of me to prepare my children for adulthood. How can they be successful in life without good reading skills? I wish someone would tell me to go find somewhere quiet & lose myself within a book for any amount of time. Reading is a reward for me, so how can it be that it’s a painful chore to my own flesh & blood!?!
Even their dad is a reader by nature, a seeker of written knowledge & power through words. They see us reading constantly. They accuse us of ignoring them sometimes because we’ve been so absorbed into the world created by the book in hand that we were unaware of them standing in front of us trying to catch our attention. They have public library cards, a book exchange program at school, plus access to the school library to allow them to find something, anything, that they’d be interested in to read. We still have the library quality collection of books from their babyhood that has grown beyond my house’s capacity as we added to it throughout the years, as we also added two daughter’s into our encompassing family unit. They have all the skills within them, imbedded by my example & teaching from the moment of their births. Yet, they have come to hate written words as much as I hate child abusers. I’m at a loss with this. I don’t know what to do, how to fix it. It almost feels like my boy’s are broken somehow, because I just cannot see past my own passions to understand their immense dislikings. It’s one of seven great wonders of the world to me. If I ever found the genie’s lamp & was granted three wishes, without a doubt, my very first wish would be to grant the boy’s the ability to love reading & writing, gain a desire to excel in each.
Already, I can see the same passions I failed to pass onto my son’s, developing in my daughter’s, which only compounds my frustrations. How do they inherit the gene, but my boys did not? ‘What did I do differently’ or ‘where did I go wrong’ are questions that plague my thoughts constantly. I search for answers, for advice, for understanding. To read is to have power- power over others through word manipulation, power to absorb written knowledge through vision, power to change someone’s perception through explanation, power to express thoughts, feelings, emotions, & situations, & power to escape into another world when life gets boring. So much power is held within words, written, spoken, & read. If my boys cannot read well, they will never know the magic of this power, one that I have mastered & always assumed that they would as well.
So I continue to drudge along, seeking a way to break through their barriers & open their minds. I pray to God, I wish upon stars, I beg them directly. Deep inside myself, I look for acceptance in the fact that they are not like me or their father in their passion for reading. Acceptance to the fact that they will still be alright, that they can still succeed as adults, have a wonderful life without a love for reading. I will still read aloud to them, hoping that the magic in my voice will speak to their soul & change their perceptions. The pages continue to turn, the chapters continue to grow in number, as we write the story of our life, & maybe, just maybe, I’ll stumble across the part where the boys discover their desire to read all the things on their own. Until then, I have willing & able girls to work with, & somehow that’s gotta be good enough for now.
Sunday Confession: Read
This blog post was brought to you by the wonderful, More Than Cheese and Beer, thanks to her prompts with her Sunday Confessions series. You’ll find more great blogs with the prompt Linked In with hers & anonymous confessions from her page followers on FB. You can follow me on FB at The Daily Rantings of an Angrivated Mom.