Thursday, June 18, 2009

Apparently the boy can read.

Who knew? Not me, if I'm being honest. It's amazing that what people say about a second child not getting as much attention is exactly right. Good intentions just don't make it happen.

With Ad, we were trying to teach her to read from a few weeks after she was born. Adding to the frenzied attention she got about language was the fact that every time she gurgled, Grandma Mary said "Did you hear that? She said I love you Grandma!" (She maintains to this day that Addie said it.) It didn't take much convincing for us to believe she was supremely gifted in all things verbal. Ad loved to talk, so it seemed to follow naturally that she'd want us to read to her, sing with her, practice sounding out letters and all that jazz.

We tried so hard with Ad. We really did. Part of it was that I was home alone with her at night for most of her young life--what else were we going to do? But I will admit this again--I have no idea when it comes to teaching a little kid how to read. I just don't know the mechanics of it. She came back from her first day of Kindergarten with more knowledge in her head than all I had tried to give her for the 4 years before she went. It just proves a few things to me: that I may know how to teach someone to write an essay, but that's an entirely different undertaking than forming language in a young child's brain, that all our efforts seemed to be for naught once she got her hands on some honest to God reading training, and that it didn't seem to matter how hard we tried or whether we were successful or not, because she goes to an awesome school and she's covered--they're going to teach her everything she needs to know.

Now, of course I think we prepared her for school. She sees me and E both reading all the time, and we have tried really hard to instill a respect for learning and for sticking to things even when they're hard. But I am not kidding you, she soaked it up with a sponge and I was left wondering what the heck I was doing all those years sitting there trying to help her learn letter sounds.

Meanwhile, Henry was born and life around here fell apart. I didn't intend to not try as hard with him; separation, law school, schedules and strife made reading to him fall lower on the priority list. It just happens. I'm not saying I like it, but it does. He's also the one who is more concerned with how things work--trains, cars, machines--not books. Playing with him usually centered around Thomas and building a track. We have lots of books, and he has access to them, but we don't spend as much time reading with him. It just isn't possible once there's more than one. But we love him like crazy and he has a good little life. It's just funny, because I don't think of Hank as my reader--Ad really is--but E and I realized something last night.

Henry, our four year old who is still a year away from starting Kindergarten, is reading. Not one word at a time or anything, though that's probably where I thought he was. Last night, he picked up this note and read it to E in its entirety:
Pizza Day!
First Grade will be celebrating the end of the school year with a Pizza Lunch on Friday, June 26, 2009. The lunch will include one slice of cheese pizza, punch, and an ice cream. There is a $2.00 donation required for this event.
Huh? He just READ IT. The whole thing. First to E, then to me. E and I were astounded. There are lots of times in life where you hear your kid "reading" and then you realize they're just parroting back a story that they've memorized. No way that Henry could have known what this said. I couldn't believe it.

We're pretty sure he's reading earlier than Ad did. I don't tell you that so you can bow down and worship at the altar of my parenting, I tell you that because WE HAVEN'T TRIED TO TEACH HIM HOW TO READ. It's like it happened by accident. We have absolutely no claim in this one. The only thing we can figure is that he wants to do what Addie does, and that plus a good preschool means this kiddo can already read most everything he sees...including the DirecTV menu and infomercial graphics, both of which he is fond of describing to us.

Funny how with the first one I tried so hard to be perfect, then I ended up lamenting all my failures; with the second one I just gave in and let things happen when they were going to happen, and they... did. Amazing.


  1. Not only is he absolutely adorable - but that is amazing that he can read. My sister has forth graders who couldn't read that pizza note. Wow - thats incredible. And you don't give yourself enough credit... I think a lot of kids learn by example, and if you and E are constantly reading, he will wonder why and want to do it himself. So cute!

  2. It freaked me out the other night when he was reading things to me; not whole sentences, but words here and there. And still, just reading those words impressed the heck out of me! Now I'm ever-so impressed!!

  3. He freaks me out on a regular basis. I have no idea how it happened, but I sure hope he loves to read--whatever he reads. I just want him to find something that floats his boat and go for it.