Category Archives: reading

5 Reasons It S-u-c-k-s That Your Kid Can Read

Reading is awesome! My kids read street signs, menus, game instructions, homework directions, and, on rare but exciting occasions, books. Reading allows them to explore their curiosities and learn about the world in which they live with a new sense of enthusiasm and independence. It’s a developmental milestone that makes me feel as proud as when they learned to wipe their own butts! But there’s a downside. There’s always a downside.

readingsucks3

1. You can’t speak in code anymore. The good old days of speaking freely in front of your kid about your kid, as in “We can’t play after school because we’re going to the d-e-n-t-i-s-t” or, “He’s getting a s-h-o-t,” are over. With literacy comes spelling skills!

2. You can’t watch the news. The world is a f-u-c-k-i-n-g scary place, and your kid’s newfound ability to read makes keeping up with current events – even on mute – a difficult proposition. A passing glance at the news ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen broadcasting hideous updates like “school shooting kills 9 and injures 12” or “pilot downs plane that kills 150” elicits the kind of questions that will make you wish you could explain something as uncomplicated as “Where do babies come from?”

3. You will become a liar, albeit a creative one. Imagine, if you will, a leisurely afternoon drive on which you pass an – ahem – adult establishment on the side of the highway. It’s no big deal (besides, you know, prostitution and sex trafficking and stuff) until your new little reader takes note and asks, “Mommy, what’s the Booby Trap?”

Me: Um… “It’s like one of those indoor play places with bounce houses and laser tag.”

Kid: “What do you do at the Booby Trap?”

Me: Um… “You team up with other kids and search for hidden booby traps. Like in Home Alone. You earn tickets for each one you find and win prizes.”

Kid: “Can I have my birthday party at the Booby Trap?”

Me: Um… “We’ll see.”

4. You will have less privacy (if that’s even possible). Motherhood is nothing but a debilitating series of events that chip away at your privacy and personal space. First, it’s your body. Then, it’s your bathroom and bed. The grand finale is your phone, and there is nothing more irritating than your kid reading your incoming texts out loud while waiting in line at the bank.

Kid: “Mommy, you got a text from Anne.”

Me: “Give me my phone.”

Kid: “It says, ‘I can meet for coffee after my wax.’”

Me: “Give me my phone.”

Kid: “What’s a wax?”

Me: “GIVE ME MY PHONE!”

5. You will have to watch your back. As if commandeering your personal communication isn’t annoying enough, you will very likely discover your kid peering over your shoulder at your computer screen while you edit an essay on your personal blog about all the reasons it s-u-c-k-s that he can read. From that point on, he will refuse to call you Mommy and only refer to you – at home and in public – by your blog’s moniker, The Runaway Mama.

“I’m thirsty, Runaway Mama!”

“I’m hungry, Runaway Mama!”

“I am NOT taking a bath, Runaway Mama!”

Reading is awesome.

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Filed under book, list, motherhood, reading

Learning To Read

books

I’m not making New Year’s resolutions this year. I can’t handle the pressure of telling you that I’m writing a book, running a half marathon, going into shopping rehab, cooking family meals, sorting Legos, or cleaning out my closet, because I may or may not do any of it. It’s hard enough to remember to buy bananas at the grocery store.

What I really want to do this year is learn to read. To be clear, I know how to read. What I need to learn, or re-learn, is how to make time to read, find the right place to read, and value the act of reading.

I didn’t like to read as a kid. Even in high school, I only read what was absolutely necessary. In college, I read constantly, but still not for enjoyment. It wasn’t until my early-twenties when I lived in and around New York City that I learned to enjoy – and fall in love with – reading. I read everything my mom and Oprah told me to, fell head over heels with Bridget Jones, and was a member of an epic, cheese-nibbling, and wine-guzzling book club, for which I hope to one day have an epic, cheese-nibbling, and wine-guzzling reunion.

Reading was a cinch at that time of my life, and it wasn’t just because I didn’t have kids with sticky fingers perpetually pulling at my shirt. It was also because of when and where I read – while moving.

Let me explain.

New Yorkers are always on the go (and rarely at the wheel), so I read all the time.  I read on Metro-North when I was in graduate school in Westchester. On Amtrak when I visited my parents in Boston or my sister in Washington, D.C. On the 2/3 when I commuted from home in Brooklyn to work in the West Village or the 4/5 when I needed a 59th Street Bloomingdale’s fix on Saturday afternoons (Shopaholic Mama The Early Years!). I read on trains, subways, buses, planes, and boats! (Okay, maybe not on boats.) I read to and from everywhere.

When I moved to Florida, and public transit disappeared, I stopped moving. Even when I was on the go, I was at the wheel, and after so many years of reading en route, picking up a book while stationary – especially at home – was awkward and uncomfortable. There were too many things pulling me away or that I thought were more important, and that was before social media was a thing!

Over time, I learned to read without transportation. Mostly, I read while I waited at doctor’s appointments. Thanks to my molar pregnancy, I had plenty of waiting to do, but my Sunshine State reading regimen never quite lived up to what I had in the Big Apple.

Then, I became a mother, and I estimated that I would read again at some point in my mid 50s. Not to be overly dramatic, I have read a few books in the eight years since my boys were born, but the time I spend reading is erratic at best. It either takes me weeks months to finish (or not finish) a book, or I devour a book in a day or two when an opportunity presents itself (i.e. when I’m away from the kids). Ironically, I feel like I read all the time. It’s just that most of what I read are social media newsfeeds, online news articles, and blogs. It is reading, but it’s not the kind of sweeping novel or compelling memoir reading I long to be doing.

My parents stayed with us over winter break, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you my mom read a book a day. She’s a machine. Considering how much time she also spends watching television and staring at her iPad, her ability to read anywhere and anytime – even over coffee with curlers in her hair at 7:30 in the morning – is admirable. She knows how to read, and she inspired me to think about some things I could do to re-learn how to read.

I could schedule time to read. Just like that Friday morning yoga class that’s on my calendar and set to repeat “every week” that I never go to for a million and one reasons, including, but not limited to, that I need to buy bananas.

I could read when my kids read. Brilliant! Just like how new moms should sleep when the baby sleeps! Whatevs.

I could clear my mind with meditation. If I could just let go of the billion and one things I’m currently thinking about and/or agonizing over, like that fact that I forgot to buy bananas again, I might feel relaxed enough to sit down and read without guilt, anxiety, or distraction. But I would have to schedule that and, well, see the abovementioned Friday morning yoga class.

I could spend less time writing. Not only do I wish I had more time carved out to write, which would require me to make a schedule (see aforementioned yoga class and meditation), but also asking me to write less is like asking me to give up my five o’clock glass of wine. That’s bananas (pun intended)!

These are all good ideas in theory, but they sound a lot like New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve made it perfectly clear that I won’t engage in such radical behavior this year.

The bright (bleak?) side is that 2015 is the year I turn 40, and I already have several over the hill wellness medical appointments lined up, including a repeat thyroid ultrasound, a mammogram, and check-ups with the Runaway Mama Dream Team (i.e. my primary care physician, dermatologist, gynecologist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, and hematologist), all of whom excel at running late, which means I’ll have plenty of time to sit, wait, and, God willing, read a book. Or maybe not because I’m not making any promises this year. That, and there might be WiFi.

Do you know how to read?

(Book suggestions welcome in the comments!)

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Filed under book, motherhood, reading