First of all, I’m not going to lie. These are some tough times, because I have a mosquito bite on my forearm that has swelled up to the size of a chubby golf ball. Clearly, the mosquito was one of those prehistoric fellows, who tipped the scales at twenty-one pounds, WITHOUT a gut full of plasma. Hubs took one look at it this morning and asked, “Does it itch?”
Does? It? ITCH?!!
People, I am two scratches away from Bedlam. The next time y’all see me, I’ll be shuffling along in my bathrobe and slippers, swatting the air at imagined bugs.
At least I’ll have time to read while I’m in the asylum.
I am, you see, a voracious reader, and I’ll read most anything, except science fiction novels, which kill my gray matter with all the boredom and the make-believe. Lord of the Rings? Never read it. Destination Mars? Um, no way. The fourth Twilight installment? It took me WEEKS to finish it, although I will confess that the first three novels lured me in with their grandeur, and I even REALLY ENJOYED THEM, but that FOURTH ONE was a bit over the top.
(And don’t get me started on the movies, because my final opinion is simply this: Jacob, honey, wear a shirt. Edward, darling, you’re a little sullen, and have you heard of a tanning bed? Bella, you seem a bit depressed and gloomy, and you’re ON! MY! NERVES!)
I just thought that the books were ever-so-very-much better than the movies.
I have been an avid reader since I first learned to read real words when I was three. I started with the easy Dick and Jane books, and, by kindergarten, I’d moved on to the easy chapter books. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was very dear to my heart in the first and second grades, as was Ramona and Henry and Ralph and Beezus. By late elementary school, I had learned all there was to learn about life from Judy Blume. And, people, the reading has never stopped. I read at least a few pages in a book EVERY! SINGLE! DAY!
When the boy came along, and when he first read the word DIP on a road sign, indicating that HEY! THERE WAS GOING TO BE A DIP IN THE ROAD! when he was barely four years old, I was thrilled. He would take after me, instead of Hubs, who reads two books every year, whether he needs to or not.
(And this year? Well, Hubs bought a book on reprogramming your Android phone, just in case the manufacturers didn’t do it right, and it’s so THICK WITH ALL THE PAGES, that he looked at me the other day and announced, “This book is big enough that it’s going to count as my two-books-a-year quota.”)
But the boy! I had great hopes of the two of us reading all the classics together. I wanted to introduce him to Aslan and Wilbur and Charlotte and that little Indian from the cupboard and the Borrowers and Billy and Old Dan and Little Ann. When he entered school, his standardized test scores simply said, “Holy snot, Batman! This boy can READ!”
THEN! Somewhere ’round about 2nd grade, the boy decided that reading was nothing short of cruel and unusual torture. He QUIT reading without being COMMANDED to read. At the boy’s school, the kids are required to read X amount of minutes every week, depending on what grade they’re in. They fill out reading logs, week after week, and they tend to MISS A RECESS OR NINE if they don’t meet the required minutes by Friday.
Since 2nd grade, the boy and I have fought the reading like a full-blown civil war at the Jedi Manor, and he reads JUST ENOUGH to make sure that he remains an active participant in all the recesses.
He will not read one single, solitary minute more than what the teachers make him, without a major sword-drawing fight at home. And yet, those standardized test scores let me know, year after year, that YOUR BOY! HE READS AS WELL AS YOU DO! HE’S READY FOR COLLEGE! I always assumed that if you were GOOD AT SOMETHING, you actually ENJOYED DOING IT.
A couple of weeks ago, the boy was sprawled on the sofa in the family room, watching some televised series on a group of grown men who actually seem to earn a living hunting for Big Foot. I told him to turn the TV off, because it was time for him to read. He looked at me and said, “Please, Mom! Give me another consequence!”
I looked at him and said, “What?”
He replied, “I don’t want to have to read as my consequence for watching TV too long; can’t I have a different punishment? Like sitting in my room?”
Good grief, people!
I said, “Boy, you are NOT in trouble! You just need to READ!”
He dead-panned me with a blue-eyed stare and asked, “Why do I have to read then, if I’m not in trouble?”
I am not sure where Hubs and I got this child from!
So, knowing all of this like y’all do now, imagine my surprise when I came into the kitchen this morning to see the boy sitting at the counter with his breakfast. He looked like this:
I said, “What are you doing?”
He told me, “Eating breakfast.”
I said, “No, no! What are you doing with the book?!”
And he said, “Well, I’m…you know…reading it.”
People! The boy was READING, and he hadn’t been TOLD to read! I felt like America must have felt when Neil Armstrong radioed back to Houston to let them know that he’d made it. I wanted to cheer and clap! I wanted to run and grab Charlotte’s Web and Bridge to Terabithia and thrust them at him, as I hollered out, “Read these next!”
I told the boy that I was shocked! That I couldn’t believe he was reading!
He said, “Well, when you made me read this book yesterday, I realized that I sort of wanted to see what happened to the characters.”
I tentatively asked, in a very quiet voice, so as not to disturb him or shock him, “So? Do you LIKE reading now?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that I LIKE it, Mom, because reading still bores me to death. But maybe I’ll do it once in a while now.”
And that, people, was a little ray of hope that I have held close to my heart all day long, while I have scratched the ever-loving snot out of my mosquito bite.