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Raising a (Parent) Reader

I began reading early in life. My earliest memories of reading are filled with books of older children – the ones who came home to be taught by my mother. English textbooks, in particular, were worth waiting for. They had stories. And poems. New words, new worlds.

I still read avidly, but motherhood put a brief stop to it. In between nappies and naptimes, the computer was my salvation, keeping me linked to sanity. I wish now that I had, what I now consider a lifesaver – a smartphone with the Kindle app. Those endless hours of breastfeeding would have gone by much quicker.

That single little invention has completely transformed how much I read. Now I read everywhere. In the car (not while I’m driving – duh!) on the way to school, in a queue at the supermarket, in the loo and under the covers snuggled up to warm bodies next to me.

The Kindle app does what a physical book can’t – it allows me to read and write surreptitiously. As the parent of an active and inquisitive five-year old, I am still a very integral part of his time. But endless games of football on the verandah or playing Transformer shop (21-st century version of the grocery shop game) takes it toll. With my book-on-a-phone I can still sit by him and read (or make notes on Evernote) while he builds a Lego house or a trains-former out of his choo-choo’s, colours inside or outside the lines or  writes a story of his own.

Do I feel guilty about not spending each breathing moment with my child? Not anymore. M knows I’m around in case he needs a playmate or help with something. A lot of the time I’m sitting right by him, welcome company while he plays happily. An essay by Kate Hass on Mamazine reinforced this feeling for me – you must make time for what is important to you.

Given how much all of us read in the family, it is no surprise of course that M learned to read early and now reads everything pretty fluently including the newspaper. We go on trips to the library where we pick up books for me and him at the same time. He’s welcome to any book in the house, even the foreign language ones that make him pout his lips like a goldfish to say those strange words. And last week, when he read and used the word ‘obliterate’ in its correct form , I could see my own five-year old self beaming over a book.

Like Kate Hass, a few stolen minutes here and there catching up with my current story is enough. It makes me feel a little more connected, a little more together.

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