When a child climbs to the next rung on life’s ladder it means the previous rung is no longer going to be trodden on.”
– Journalist, Jonathan Sale.
[This article was written forWorld of Moms. It waspublished in October 2015, and one that I have completely forgotten about when work took over my life in the last few months. I hope to be able to start writing for them again soon]
The days of having to read to my daughter before her bedtime is well and truly over.
These days, she’ll pick out her own books, asks me to sit next to her and she’ll be reading her own bedtime stories to me. She also wants to read to her little brother, who, would sit next to her or on her lap, listening to her reading as he fidgets away while concurrently fiddling with the pages of the book his sister has on hand. It’s kind of cute.
Her reading is slow, but purposeful. At 5 years old, she’s now able to read easy 4-6 letters words in a 5-word sentence, even though at times, it can be painfully slow. What would usually take me 5 minutes to read her book will now take 3x as long because she’s reading it on her own. Unless she could not figure out the words, she would flatly refuse to let me read her an entire book any more.
Sometimes, I get bored waiting for her to finish reading off a page, especially since she’s been reading the same book for a whole week straight! But being the dutiful and responsible mother that I should be, I force myself to be present and restrain myself from wanting to take over the reading. Internally, it can be pretty agonizing.
She always gets to the end of course, 20 minutes longer than my preferred timing, and when that happens, there’s always a glimmer of pride in her smile; with or without help before we proceed with our nightly chat in her bed.
Her ability to read has been pretty impressive and while I am happy with her development, this whole independent reading thing is going too fast for me. It makes me feel sentimental. Sad even, especially considering that I’m not ready to be thrown out from being the alpha-reader!
Come to think of it, pretty soon, she’ll be throwing me out of her room because she doesn’t need me next to her when she’s reading. I guess it would not be too long from now…give or take a few more years.
It’s a conundrum. I should be happy. But.
Thinking back, there was a little reading incident that had happened when my daughter was about 2 years old. It was when her brother was just a few months old, and it happened to be just one of those days when everything went awfully awry.
I remember that day well. It was a morbidly humid, sweltering day. I was sticky, stressed, exhausted and above all, I was stressed out from the day’s events after surviving yet another night of my son’s hourly night waking, and my daughter’s epic temper tantrums.
By 4 p.m, I was completely spent, extremely high-strung and impatient. I had no energy left in me. I was due for a much needed shower and all I wanted was to get away from the fiasco for just 10 minutes. As I made my way to my room, my 2-year old daughter came up to me with one of her little books, and went, “Mama read. Mama read. Mama read.” She must have repeated herself 100 times and it was driving me absolutely insane!
In my head, I wanted to scream “NOT NOW DAMMIT!” while telling her to go away. Feeling the way I did but didn’t see the need to over-react, I looked at her wearily. I then told her with my resigned and exhausted voice that, “Yes, I will read it to her. And yes, I’ll get to it, but for now, I want to have my shower first and she has to wait!”
What happened next tugged my heart and broke me into pieces. My daughter spontaneously lowered her head down, and looked away. Without saying a word, she turned away from me and took the book with her. That look of disappointment had pierced into my gut.
What the hell was I thinking?! Surely I have 5 minutes to read her ONE book before I go for my shower! In fact, I had time to read her a couple of books! My shower can wait!
Regretting my reaction and response to her, I then eagerly called her back. I told her that I have changed my mind and that I’ll read her the book at that very moment. In fact, I’ll read her a few more if she wanted me to!
Her face lit up, and, just as quickly, she looked like she had just grown springs on her feet. She leapt and ran up to her piles of books and fished out a couple for me.
I sat down and with her enthusiastically plonking her butt on my lap, I began reading the 5-page books to her one by one. She listened like she never listened before, and it was 5 minutes of joyous bonding moment I could have ever asked for. At that very moment, I was glad I caught myself in time and was able to remedy it there and then.
Come to think of it, really, all she did was asked me to read her a book. ONE BOOK. It was not much to ask for. It certainly was more important than my shower. I may be smelly, but for a 2 year old, that didn’t matter. What mattered was, I had made time.
I felt like a million dollars after that – a reminder to myself that whatever it was from then on, I will always make time for my kids. Showers and everything else can always wait. She had only needed 5 minutes of my time then, and, at that moment, I told myself that regardless of how I feel at a particular moment, I shall always have 5 minutes to read her a book… for, there will come a time when she doesn’t need me to read her anything anymore.
I think that time has come. And I have not looked back with an ounce of regret that I had missed the boat. I had made time. I always will.
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