Reading Between the Lines


The Beginning

I am an avid reader. Anyone who knows me is aware of this little fact. I am also a great big advocate to instill the love of reading in children. I have a shirt somewhere that states that I help turn children into lifelong learners. It's the thing I took the most pride in while working at Scholastic Book Fairs.

Last year, I started noticing some issues with the Frog Princess as she learned to read. She started plateauing in the fall of her kindergarten year and I noted this to the teacher. I realized during that fall and winter that the teacher wasn't necessarily qualified to help me when my child had an issue (she suggested that I "get help for that" and I was so confused because wasn't that a school? Couldn't she help me?).

Enniweighs, last spring, I recalled a co-worker at Book Fairs having a similar issue with her child and it turned out to be something going on with his eyesight. He had an issue tracking and got physical therapy for it. That knowledge led me to the eye doctor and sure enough, the Frog Princess needed glasses.

[Tweet "We must learn to advocate for our kids! Without feeling like we failed."]

By this time, though, I noticed that her confidence was waning a bit. My frustration didn't help, I'm sure. Since then I had her assessed by a teacher who assured me she was actually ahead for her age and all has been well. She's on the honor roll for the 2nd time already and I'm super proud of the way she has tackled school.

Her reading grade is now an A. AN. A!

The Middle

I try my best to figure out how she learns. In the fall semester I felt like I was putting too much of my expectation on my kid. And even though I wasn't consciously doing this, I wondered if some of my frustration was because of other people's assumptions of her learning/reading level simply based on my current and ongoing love affair with books.

Shefali Tsabary sums it up beautifully: “When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”

Dude, I have an amazing kid who happens to read slightly above her grade level. No, she's not reading novels. Not yet ready to finish up a Junie B. Jones book on her own. But she is compassionate and kind to others without prompting. She has a deep understanding of empathy and integrity. Her sense of direction is off the chain and her sense of humor trumps her cuteness.

The End

Not that I need to qualify anything that I am saying about my kid. The Frog Princess is learning. As her parents, so are we. The other night, I explained that learning is a treasure map for us. Her dad and I are searching with her to help her figure out the treasure. It's important for her to know that just as it was important for us to say that, sometimes, we might get frustrated not because of anything she's doing wrong but because we don't know if what we are doing is right.

The thing I am proud of is that I've managed to help her find her confidence. That I've sparked curiosity in her by the books I bring into the home. We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone this past Fall and she enjoyed it. Then we watched the movie. Now she's hoping to be sorted into Gryffindor.

If you follow me on Insta, you know we made a pact to get through 200 books this year. Some I will read to her and some, she will read to me. Last night, she read me Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend. All 38 pages of it. I was so happy I could burst.

We have an Amazon wishlist and I'm trying to fill it up even though we have more than a few books around the house.

I'm also tracking our reading in Good Reads and because I have a list problem, I have a list of books she reads and a list of books I read to her. These will add up to 200 by the time December 31st rolls in. Follow the convo on social and share your books using #YearofBooks and #SheReads.

This kid is not a mini-me and I am not my parents. Don't get me wrong, Mami was all the things but if I parented just like her, I would've missed the point. Because I have different resources at my disposal and the one thing I could say about Mami was that she did the best she could with the tools that she had. So I have to do the same for the Frog Princess. Unapologetically. Because I'm at a point in my life when I feel the most attuned with myself and the most whole, I find that this helps me see her separate from me and brings me closer to her all at the same time. As I think of all of this, I am reminded of this quote:

“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?” - Shefali Tsabary

By listening to my own beat, I can teach her to follow hers. By understanding that there's so much more to life right now than her reading level, I become aware of the many gifts my child brings into this world. For me, this realization makes me even more excited to center myself and my purpose because I know that when I do that, I'm giving her a road map toward hers.