When Children Learn to Read

Or, what really happens now that my children are reading.

My seven-year-old, Squishy, loves to read.  He is at the point where he reads everything. He will read over my shoulder.  He will read labels.  He will read t-shirts.  He will read basically anything.

There is a fun print my sister-in-law gave The Captain for his birthday.  He likes to make (and drink) martinis.  Squishy now knows how to: 1.  Say martini and 2. Spell martini.

Squishy has become a reading machine.

He also likes to read over my shoulder while I am on my Kindle.

“Mom, what the crap is wrong with this lady?”

“What lady?” I ask, “and don’t say crap.”

“The lady in your book named Anne.  She is a freak.”

I am reading about Anne Boleyn.  “She is not a freak, Squishy, she just had some issues.”

“Like what?” he asks as I wonder briefly how far to take this.

“She was married to a famous king of England and it didn’t end well for her,” I strategically answered.

“Why?  Is his name Henry?”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I read it over your shoulder,” he grinned triumphantly, “See ya, I am going outside, OK Mom?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I answered.

Yesterday, heading for a quick grocery store stop, Squishy said, “Mom, the truck next to us has a bad word on a sticker.”

“What does it say?” I asked, trying to navigate through the zillion traffic lights in our small town.

“Will I get in trouble if I say it?” he asked.

“Just read it to me,” I said, with the patience and kindness of a women with mild road rage.

“Bad ass,” he said, “It says bad ass.  Why is he a bad ass, Mom?  He doesn’t look like a bad ass.”

“OK,” I said, using the mom voice, “You can stop saying it now.”

“Well, he doesn’t look like one anyway…Hey, Mom, the sign over there says not to text and drive.  And that one says the service begins at 10, and that one says…”  And so on, and so on.

I think I may need that martini.  Stat.

The Borders Bummer and BAM

Like many folks, I love to read.  Reading is my special time when I zone everyone out and dive completely and relentlessly into the pages of a book.  I used to also zone everyone out and dive completely and relentlessly into Borders book store, but now they are no more.

I miss Borders.  It was that place to stop after having wine and dinner with friends to go and peruse novels because we didn’t want to go home quite yet.  It was that haven for awkward teens to hang out close to midnight and get the first copies of Harry Potter and Twilight new releases.  I have to admit that I found myself with them on a few occasions (although I had dinner and wine with bffs beforehand – thank goodness) to get these hardback reads.  I miss Borders.

Sometimes, I would just go to Borders alone and look at books that I would never intend to buy – such as cookbooks or the art of paper mache.  I looked at the bright pictures in the coffee table books, glanced through the sports biographies and always ended up in the literature section.  It was almost a freeing experience.  I was a bird, flying through a magical maze of typed paper trees.  Ah – happiness.  I didn’t even have to buy anything (but I always did).  I could just browse in a quiet, welcoming environment and even sip on an expresso if I was in the mood.  I miss Borders.

This past summer, I refused to believe the rumors about the progressing end of Borders.  It wasn’t until a friend suggested we meet there and look at the discounted books that it hit me.  Borders was leaving and there was nothing I could do about.  My heart ached.  My teeth chattered.  My eyes got teary.  I felt like weeping.  It was the end of an era for me.  Darn the Nook.  Darn the Kindle.  Darn the iPad.  Darn Amazon.com.  (I must be honest, though, I have a Kindle, iPad and Amazon Prime).  So, darn me.

Border’s in our area was replaced by Books a Million, or BAM for short.  The only time I want to hear BAM is from Emeril, not a bookstore.  As I walked through this Borders wannabe, I felt my skin crawl.  I couldn’t understand the price stickers, and I couldn’t find a helpful employee to explain them to me.  Basically, I couldn’t buy anything.  Nada.  That has never happened to me before.  I actually walked out without a nugget of a book.  Not even a pen or a playful notebook.  Zero, zilch, zip.  Nothing. Darn.

So, Borders, just know that even though you are gone, you are still missed by me.  I will click around on Amazon, but it is not the same.  I will download books on my Kindle, but I will forever miss your reading recommendations and staff favorites.  Now, I will pursue book suggestions from blogs and Amazon.  I will join the 21st century.  Darn.  And bam.

Looks like Borders, but it is not. Sniff sniff.

A vice or the grip of reality

I am going to have to go total cliche in this post.  My favorite blogger, Brainvomit40, decided she is going to write on her blog about defending her vice.  And I thought, what is my vice?  Then I thought, what the hell is the definition of a vice?  I know what it kind of means but I couldn’t really explain it.  So, I turned to Dictionary. com (insert cliche here!) and did what all of my students do when they open a persuasive paper: write the definition.  Here goes:

According to dictionary.com, the super fast website that is a crutch to many a young person, the definition for vice is as follows:  1. an immoral or evil habit or practice. 2. immoral conduct; depraved or degrading behavior: a life of vice. 3. sexual immorality, especially prostitution. Synonyms: wantonness *hilarious word – * 4. a particular form of depravity. 5. a fault, defect, or shortcoming: a minor vice in his literary style.

Did you get all that?  Well, I just don’t know if I actually have anything today that counts as #1 – an immoral or evil habit unless you count the countless hours I have spent playing Plants vs. Zombies.  For #2 – immoral conduct or degrading behavior – I think I cursed a few times at the dude driving 35 in a 55 on my way to school today, but I didn’t give him the finger or anything so that doesn’t count. Next is #3 which is sexual immorality or prostitution which I can safely say I would probably only run for about $25 bucks and that is just not worth it.  I am going to skip #4 because I would have to go back to dictionary.com to find the definition for depravity.  And last, but probably the most fitting for me in the vice category, is fault, defect or shortcoming.  Let’s just stop there and say yes to all in the glorious #5.

Side note here:  Students would have never made it to #5.

I guess, when looking at #5, I have a few (quite a lot, actually) vices, and/or faults.  One is that I get easily distracted.  For example, I really like talking to people.  Case in point:  a few weeks ago we had parent/teacher conferences.  I like to refer to them as conferences that parents don’t really care about because their kid is almost out of high school and they should be responsible for themselves so we don’t need to go conferences.  I had a little time on my hands for the lack of parent participation, and I started to get down to grading projects, papers and everything else on my desk.  Within ten minutes, I had two visitors and decided I needed to visit someone else and tell them what the other visitors and I had discussed.  I ended up using a lot of my time just communicating.  Let’s just say that I successfully solved the world’s problems but ended up taking all of the grading home because I didn’t finish it.

Another is reading. I love to read books and I love my Kindle.  Reading is good, but it can be bad when I tune everything – phone, conversations, stove-top timers – out when I read.  For some reason I plant myself into the book and stay there.  I remember being in high school and my mom would have to physically get my attention by touching my shoulder while I was reading.  Of course, when I got older and got married, my mom forgot to mention this to my husband.  Needless to say, he gets incredibly frustrated with my “reading zone-out” times.  And is is a lot of times – whether I am in my beloved Kindle or just reading something on the iPad or my MacBook Pro or my iMac or my iPhone or just checking Facebook. (Another vice: I love technology toys. Could you tell?!)

As I am writing this, more and more vices are starting to pop in my head.  The idontcookprocrastinatorvideogameplayingcursingwinedrinkingshoppingpicturetakingtimewastingandmore are starting to fester in my brain making me want to get post this blog and clean out my purse in order to procrastinate going to the craft store or grading the latest round of papers.  Suffice to say, we all have vices.  Hopefully not the #3 ones, but some more healthy ones.  But, instead of worrying about them,  I am just going to smile, click on dictionary.com and check out the word of the day.  Which is pansophy.  What, you don’t know that one?  Well, just look it up already.  Geez.