The other day I pulled an old Kindergarten book of mine out of the drawer and added it to my Kindergartner’s stack of schoolwork for the day. Now, we have about 4 lessons left in her Kindergarten Hooked on Phonics so I’m about to order the First Grade set even though we’re only halfway through her first school year. So, I know she can read my old Kindergarten book, it’s 3 and 4 letter words, two to three sentences per page, and a picture to help. She’s read just about every one of these words in her Hooked on Phonics book, and the words she hasn’t read she knows how to sound out.
I hand the book to her and she takes one look at it and announces that she can’t read it. She’s convinced that because it’s a different book than what she’s used to it’s simply not readable (I am aware that this is a problem, she thinks she can only read her hooked on phonics stuff so my goal with this book is to prove to her that she CAN read other books and I waited until I was sure she could read this book pretty easily before handing it to her, I need this to be an easy success so I can get her reading other books). I informed her that she only needed to read the first page, it’s two sentences and about 8 words total. Pretty easy. It takes FOREVER to read that page because she’s convinced she doesn’t know the words, yet she is able to sound each of them out and read the sentences. The next day I have her read the second page, which is again two sentences and about 8 words total, this goes much better since she’s beginning to realize that she can read the book. The third day she reads the third page with practically no help, and then the fourth day she decides that she’s just going to read the last 3 stories in the book in one day because they’re so easy! After we finish the book I point out to her that this is book 1 (it has a big 1 on the front) and that I have book 2 for us to read the next day. She’s so excited because she loves stories and she’s realized that she can read these books that I’m handing her, chances are she’ll try to read all of book 2 in one day.
I knew she could read the books and I know what words she can sound out and which ones she needs help with (we’ve covered long and short vowels but haven’t learned things like “oo” and “st” yet) so I’m not expecting something she can’t do. She just thinks I’m asking her to do something that is impossible.
My oldest child reminds me of myself so much. I was reminded of how I reacted when I found out I was pregnant with her.
My husband and I had been married for almost two years, I had three months left of college and I wasn’t working at the time so really we were in a pretty good situation to have a baby. Only, I wasn’t ready for a baby. My brother-in-law was living with us at the time (was supposed to be 3 months with us in our 2 bedroom apartment and had been almost a year), I was heading into my Law School finals with terrible morning/all day sickness, I was really looking forward to getting a job when I finished school, and I didn’t want kids yet.
I’m the oldest of 8 kids and I had told my husband before we got married that I would probably want a child or two eventually but I did not want kids for quite a while. He would have liked a baby sooner but he was willing to wait for me to be ready. When I got married my youngest sister was 5 – she was my flower girl, so you get the idea. I know babies and young children, I grew up with them. I really wanted a few baby free years.
I was not happy to be pregnant, I was pretty certain the timing was all wrong, and I told God that I really did not think this was funny at all, seriously, I’m enjoying my “Hooked on Phonics” books, let’s just stay here for a while. I’m sure he does things like this to me because it’s funny – not a mean, malicious funny, but like how I felt trying to convince my 5 yr old that she can read a book that’s almost too easy for her. It is funny, why is she resisting so much, if she would just do it she would realize how easy it is…
I finally got over it when my baby girl arrived (by this time we had bought a 3 bedroom house and kicked my brother-in-law out, and I had successfully finished school), and I really felt like my 5 year old did when she realized that the book I handed her was something she could read, I wasn’t lying when I told her she could read it.
I’m the oldest of 8 kids, I grew up with babies. My Pediatrician probably thought I was the craziest first time mom ever. I never had questions, never freaked out over anything, and was very laid back about this whole parenting thing. But, really, what do you expect, the only thing I had to learn how to do was nurse, other than that, I’d done this baby care thing many times. I remember being actually bored with my first because I had so much free time after she arrived – she slept so much and I had no school, no work, and a clean house. I can just see God laughing at me and saying “I told you, you know how to do this”. (really, I think that if our society liked kids more, large families would be more normal, and there would be a lot less of this “freaking out over the first baby because I don’t know what to do with a baby” syndrome, but that’s a different topic for a different day)
Now, I have 3 kids and plan to have a 4th eventually (it’s like the stack of books hidden away in the drawer, once she found out she could read the first one she’s ready for the whole stack). I will admit, the third child threw me for a loop (plus my oldest started kindergarten and we’re homeschooling so imagine an infant and homeschooling for the first time! Scheduling Crisis!!!), I remembered the craziness that comes with multiple young children (I grew up with this, remember) and I’ve accepted it. Seven months in, we’re finally settled in, and my house is never clean. But, I honestly feel like I’ve just graduated from the “easy readers” or “I Can Read” as her books are titled to something a little bit more robust like a good mystery and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds.