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Reading Redux

Nine and a half months ago, Simon began to read. It was so exciting! Short little words to be sure, but the beginning of a fabulous adventure. By February or so, he worked through Hop on Pop. And then… well, and then a whole lotta nothing happened. Unless you count regression. We definitely had some of that, when Simon would try to guess at a word. If he was wrong and I pressed him to sound it out, as often as not he’d drop his head on the bed/couch/table/floor and feign exhaustion.

So I baked off. Way, way, off. Then kindergarten started, and the reading project began with renewed force. I left most of the work to the professionals, but occasionally tried to cajole Simon into sounding out a word. One night in particular I remember his getting really upset about not wanting to sound out a word when his guess at sight reading was wrong. He seemed so worried about the whole thing, and I didn’t understand why he was crying. He explained it like this:

“What if I can’t read to him?”

“Which ‘him’? Who’s him?” I was confused.

“You know. When I’m a grown-up and have a baby, what if I can’t read to him?”

How adorable is that? And how many not-quite-six-year-olds are worrying about reading to their speculative future children. I was floored.

Now the story advances to the last week or so. Simon has been reading signs and words on the tv screen. He’s asking me to spell everything. He read yard signs for political candidates and tries to read the names of countries and oceans on our map and globe. And last night he sat down and started to read Green Eggs and Ham. It had been ages since we read it, possibly 18 months or more, so he wasn’t working from memory. Between sight words and sounding out the simple Seussian vocabulary, he got all the way to page 27. At which point he paused, caught his breath, and then carried on to the end.

When he finished, I praised him to the hilt and told him how happy I was for him. “Oh, Simon,” I enthused, “all the things you’ll get to start reading and learning soon. You’ll never have to be bored! Whatever it is you are curious about—planets, a country, a person, volcanoes, anything!—you’ll be able to find a book or website about it and read and learn. It’s all so wonderful!”

Simon looked happy and more than a little relieved. Then he told me,

“Mama, now I know I’ll be able to read to my child. You know, like when I’m a grown-up and married and have a child of my own.”

I had no idea this was weighing on him so much, and I’m still surprised by it. Charmed even more. Now that the neurons are firing and psychic burden lifted, I get the feeling the reading adventure has well and truly begun. And if nothing else, he can always read Green Eggs and Ham to my future grandchild. Over, and over, and over, and over.

One Response to “Reading Redux”

  1. blg says:

    Where’s your LIKE button?
    In a nostalgic, bittersweet way, I envy Simon all those wondrous “firsts” he has coming. First chapter book. First time reading Johnny Tremaine. First time reading The Hobbit. First time he comes across a book on his own that you’ve read.

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