What's with that? Every time I attended a parent teacher conference, the teacher always put in "... And don't forget to read to your child." Read to my kid!? I've been reading to my kid since before she burst out of my ovary! By the time my little ovum met up with 23 of her dad's chromosomes that prodigious little zygote and I had gotten through three children's classics.
Throughout her gestational phase, my fetus and I had read all the greats, Seuss, Potter, Tan and every Girlfriend's Guide Ivione has ever written. During labor and delivery I read a lot of comedy in a vain maternal effort to remain cheerful -*^&%$-it!
I left the hospital in stitches literally and figuratively, but not before the nurse handed me a free sample bag of infant products and little goodie bag chucked full of edible baby books complete with instructions to read to our child (I'd like to add that those were the only the instructions I left the hospital with). How was I supposed to know why babies were supposed to be burped? Apparently I didn't get the memo about how a human being the size of a football can spew milk for 20 feet or more if not burped every two ounces or every other breast as the case may be ... and who knew that each kid would be so unique?
As I was saying, since I really do love to read, I repeated this literary experiment several times although I never had to be reminded to burp the baby again.
Turns out two of my kids ended up in remedial reading programs, two are average readers and one is an exceptional reader.
None-the-less, at each and every stinking conference the teacher always concluded the session with yet another little reading dig; it's like an educator's grammatically correct way to end a sentence.
For example: "Your child has recently taken a reading fluency test. When your child took this test a month ago, his score was eighty-nine words per minute. His score is now one hundred and fifty-two words per minute. The second grade reading goal is sixty-seven words per minute by January and it's only October, so keep reading each night, it'll help!"
Or how about, "I'm quite concerned that your child does not seem to remember her ABCs, and still exhibits a lot of infantile behaviors, really, thumb sucking is so distracting in the seventh grade, did I mention that you should read to your child?"
Or one of my favorites
"Don't worry Mrs. Michels, the district insurance will cover the minor fire damage caused when your son tried to torch the gymnasium. Such a creative way to demonstrate the concept of spontaneous combustion, don't you think? You should have him tested. Uuum ... have you been reading to him?"
And I can only imagine.
"Congratulations, your daughter has finally earned her Ph.D. You must be so proud! Remember, reading is the key to success!"
Don't get me wrong, I know reading is fundamentally linked to a child's success in life and I'm all for it. Books are the one thing I completely spoil my kids with. Our bookshelves overflowith and I'm sure there is some ordinance against having so much flammable material in my home.
No doubt there is also some group somewhere that might take issue with my "creative" rewriting of original texts. For example, wherever Prince Charming woke Sleeping Beauty up in our improved version of the classic fairy tale, she always arose, yawned, looked at her watch and declared, "Oh, thanks a lot Charming, but I have to run, I'm off to medical school!"
Snow Whitepetitioned the Mother Goose Union that her little men simply had to pay her at least minimum wage plus benefits for her domestic skills and little Jack Horner was given the choice to either get off his duff and do something more useful than sitting around while his parents did all the work or to forfeit his college savings account so his folks could go on safari.
The jury is still out about if this has warped my kids, but they can all read and I am proud to say that they have a clear idea that it is hard work, not make believe and wishing that makes dreams come true.
A few good books never hurt anything either ...
Well, that's all for now folks, I've got to run and get ready for medical school.
Thank you for reading along and thanks for all the support.
Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who is living happily ever after in Soldotna.
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