Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's all how you read the situation

One of the problems with raising your first born child is you have no reference point. There is no big picture. Everything you are doing is in the here and now. With your subsequent children you can take the approach that *this too shall pass* when things get hairy. But with the first you have to assume that this is as bad as it gets and act accordingly. You have no perspective.

One of the things I have been working on with my children for the past, oh, two years, is their insistence on using the word *butt*. For some reason it drives me bonkers when they say this word.Prior to them using the word in every possible sentence I didn't consider the word offensive. And when adults use it I still don't. But when kids use it it sounds so crass, so inappropriate. I tried many tactics to get them to stop but it just wouldn't take. I would correct them until I was blue in the face and it made no impact. Finally one day when I was giving them yet another mommy lecture on how that word hurts my ears I just stopped. It suddenly dawned on me that before I knew it there would be many words that were a greater cause for alarm then the slang for a person's derriere. I realized I needed to pace myself, save my energy or I would burn out well before the teenage years. Instead I needed to gird my strength and save up for a rainy day. This was not the first occasion when this thought has occurred to me.

My daughter loves to read. This started around the beginning of first grade and has escalated at breakneck speed. She wasn't an early reader but once she got going it snowballed. By the second grade it has reached the point where she won't stop reading. Ever. Now I know you are sitting there rolling your eyes and hating me for being one of those parents who says things like *Oh I just don't know what to do about Bobby. He is so gifted in science that I finally had to hire an ex-astronaut to tutor him in enrichment*. No, it's not like that. I am glad my daughter loves to read. My husband and I are both avid readers and nothing gave us greater pleasure than to discover our daughter is on the path to a lifelong love of the written word.

However, it has a dark side. This child reads morning, noon and night. She will wake up early before school to read her book or make sure she has enough time to read the comics in the newspaper. She reads when she has friends over. Of course this can be a big plus if the friend loves to read because my house stays really clean. And quiet. She reads everywhere all the time. We have to beg her to stop reading and converse with us at dinner. Or at least acknowledge us. It has become annoying.

It has also become a safety hazard. She reads while she is walking home from school. This wouldn't be a problem except that she can't see where she is going and I have to constantly bark at her to stop reading and just walk. This causes me to receive some strange looks. What kind of parent tells their child to stop reading? The one whose child has been known to walk into a power box affixed to a pole. She managed to avoid the pole because it was not in the middle of the sidewalk, but the power box stuck out just enough that she clocked her head.

This reading thing has gotten so out of control that she actually yells at me when she runs out of books. She whines and complains when we tell her she may not bring her book to read when we go out to dinner as a family. My mother came to visit for her birthday. We had bought my daughter a bunch of new books but didn't give them to her until the day before my mom left because I knew that the minute she opened them that would be the end of grandma's quality time with her granddaughter. And it was.

And then we were out to dinner one night when in came a friend of mine with her children. One child is a teenager and the other one is getting close. They are both extremely bright kids with lovely personalities and I am always impressed with them when I run into her. There we were at our table with my daughter reading her book. I felt so self-conscious about how dysfunctional we must look. And then my friend and her family sat down and the teenager pulled out his iPod and started watching a video and the almost teenager pulled out her DS and started intently playing a game. They didn't acknowledge their parents or each other for that matter. I am not sure they did more than grunt enough words to place their food order with the waitress. And at that moment it hit me. Perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Take out the words "read a book" and substitute "play soccer/ kick ball around" and you have my life. I am tripping over so many balls (even inside), it is not even funny. (That oldest son of mine sure as hell better get me front row tickets to the World Cup when he plays there, 'cause he will. And I don't even like soccer.)