Book ’em!

Today is Family Literacy Day in Canada. It’s one of my favourite days. We love books. We are a family of readers – even though some of us don’t have a lot of time and one of us is a reluctant reader – we are definitely a book loving, read-it-one-more-time, oh-please-just-one-more-story, I-promise-I’ll-go-to-sleep-after-this-chapter, kind of family.

It is a common occurrence for Thing 1 to read into the wee hours. He should be sleeping. He needs to be sleeping. We know this. Yet, the little solar powered, wind up radio/flashlight that he keeps with him when he “sleeps” is remarkably long lasting (way to go Lee Valley!) and how can we deny him that last chapter? No really. I’m asking! We are usually asleep. So it’s impossible, right?

Thing 2 is a reluctant reader. Don’t get me wrong – she loves books and having books read to her. She even likes reading with her brother or her friends at school, but she doesn’t have the undying need to unlock the code that leads to being a fully independent reader. It’s just not her style. Yet.

I am confident it will come. I see sparks and glimmers of it more and more these days. The Reading Detective with her spy glass and Sherlock Hemlock (Yes. Hemlock.) hat. The spending time with books surrounding her little body as she sits in her bed after school for some much needed and well deserved alone time. The excitement when she finds a new series to start at the library (Thea Stilton is her latest discovery.). The thrill of reading a book from start to finish. It’s happening. Slowly, but surely, it’s happening.

Actually, today was an exciting day for Thing 2. She got to participate in “Reader’s Theatre” as a part of her school’s Literacy Week celebrations and she was the narrator. Best of all, she came home very excited to tell me all about it and how they might get to perform for the Grade Fours. GRADE FOURS YOU GUYS! This is the Grade Two equivalent of Broadway!

Since today is Family Literacy Day, I thought it might be fun to ask my children what kinds of things families should do to encourage children to read. I was right. It was fun (for me). You can let me know if it was fun for you, but not right now. Right now I have some interviews to conduct.

Here are my questions:

1. When did you learn to read?

Thing 1: “Grade 1. I read a Geronimo Stilton book.”

Thing 2: “Senior Kindergarten. I read BOB books.”

2. How did learning to read make you feel?

Thing 1: “Pretty good. I was really excited when I finished reading.”

Thing 2: “Horrible! I didn’t want to learn how to read!”

3. What is your favourite thing about reading?

Thing 1: “That there are books about pretty much, almost, everything!”

Thing 2: “I like when I am reading a book and I’m right in the middle of it and I just have to get to the end.”

4. When is your favourite time of day to read?

Thing 1: “When I’m supposed to be sleeping.”

Thing 2: “Bedtime, because I get to snuggle you {Ed. Awww!} and read with you.”

5. What would you tell concerned parents to make them feel better about their child’s reading abilities?

Thing 1: “They’ll learn to read at their own pace and don’t read them, “See Sam. See Sam run. See Sam run around the track.”, books. Try reading them a little more interesting and bearable stories.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them just let them read a book and encourage them and just watch them grow in reading.”

6. What would you tell teachers to help them get their students excited about reading?

Thing 1: “I’d tell them to start reading books in class and let their kids choose what books they read and not say “I know you want to read this chapter book, and I know you can, but you haven’t passed the test for that book yet, so here read this it has three to four words. Have fun.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them that the child should have a little push and picture books and then they can grow into chapter books with no pictures and well, it will be funner for them.”

7. Do you think Family Literacy Day is important?

Thing 1: “Depends whether people actually read books on it or not. ‘Cause it’s not really Family Literacy Day unless you read. It’s even better when teachers do something with their classes. Like a special event.”

Thing 2: “Yes, because reading books is important, too!”

8. What is your all time favourite book?

Thing 1: “It’s not really a book its more of a series of books and I can’t decide between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.”

Thing 2: “Thea Stilton books because they are like Geronimo Stilton books, but – no offence Geronimo – they just have better adventures.”

Today is a good day to be just a little bit more mindful of how great it is to have access to so many books in a city with great libraries and bookstores

How are we spending Family Literacy Day? Pretty much the same way we spend every day. School and work. Dinner together. Just like everyday there will be lots of reading. Maybe tonight there will be an extra bedtime story – or ten.

And then a window opens…

My weeks are long.  Some weeks seem so impossibly long, that by the time Friday rolls around I am fairly certain I will not make it through.  One too many e-mails, phone calls, appointments, meetings, bills, arguments, conflicts, worries . . . what have you.  I do, of course.  We all do.  No matter what happens, we are all usually gifted with enough . . . (What?  Oomph?  Chutzpah?  Will?  Determination!  Yeah.  Let’s go with determination.) determination to make it through those days and weeks when the challenges seem to outweigh the triumphs.

This was one of those weeks.  This month has kind of been (mostly) made up of these weeks.  Why?  Didn’t 2014 get the memo that this year was supposed to be the best?  Did the Universe not understand that I had big plans to be better – AT EVERYTHING?  Better wife, better mother, better friend, better, better, better….

Better s-l-o-w down there, missy, because you are setting yourself up for a major face plant on the floor of this shiny New Year!

Where was I?  Oh yes!  Long week.  You “get” it, yes?  Great.  Moving on.

This week I didn’t even make it until Friday before my mettle was tested.  Bare in mind, in many ways, it’s tested on a daily basis for various reasons.  Some of which are typical, run-of-the-mill, everyday annoyances that everyone experiences to one degree or another.  Some, well… some are unique to my situation as the mother of, and the wife of, some pretty interesting individuals. (To be clear, I just have the one husband, but I am confident he’d agree that he is definitely an individual!)

Maybe I put a bit too much pressure on myself?  Maybe thinking my very first blog entry should be so gripping and interesting that it would catch the eye of a kind audience of readers who would all declare, “I laughed.  I cried.  It moved me!”, was a bit ambitious?  When I think about it logically, I have to agree that it is possible.

I mean, just since I started typing at my laptop, here, in my kitchen (where I must stand to type because “laptop” is a bit of a misnomer for my “Frankenputer” now, but I digress…) I have been interrupted no fewer than five times by Thing 1 who is currently playing Clumsy Ninja on my iThing and is just so excited by every. single. new. thing. his Clumsy Ninja pal does, he can’t help, but interrupt to share all the fun with me.  Forget that there are two other people here who would be happy to listen.  Forget that his little sister might actually really love to hear what he has to say, so she can try to do a similar thing with her Ninja.  He comes to me.  Me.  Always me.  It’s lovely, really.  It is also, if I am to be honest at all, exhausting.  However, his enthusiasm is pure joy and when he cheekily asked a few minutes ago, “Was it worth it?” I just smiled and kissed him and agreed that, yes, it was.  Watching that chicken, with 5 balloons attached to her back, floating up into the cartoon sky was totally worth my losing my train of thought.  And it was.  This is my life. 

So, yes, perhaps I made a bit of a mountain out of a molehill where this particular endeavour is concerned. Okay.  I’ll get over myself.  

This week was a challenge from stem to stern. Thursday’s mail came with not one, but two scary letters. The kind that make you catch your breath. The kind that make you wonder why you bother trying to be a good, fine, upstanding citizen. The kind that you are 100% certain will have nothing good to say on the inside of their envelopes. The kind, that though you are digging deep and putting your inner Pollyanna on high alert for a serious dose of positivity, you just know nothing good can possibly come from. The kind, worst of all, that you can’t do a darn thing about until the next day. Ugh! Who can sleep now!?!

Then Friday came. See? We make it. Despite everything to the contrary, we make it.

On Friday, there’s a tiny bit of a “hope boost”, isn’t there? It’s organic. Naturally built into even a stressful week. The weekend is so close we can taste it. Just get the children out the door and onto their buses and we’re golden! The Things will have time to play, read, breathe, do nothing. If I’m lucky, so will I! This is enough to get me through the day, but on this  particular Friday a beautiful thing happened. A very kind message left on my iThing by the VP at Thing 1’s school, praising Thing 1 for something that had occurred the day before. A reminder that the things we do and say make a difference, not only in the lives of our Things, but also in the lives of their friends and classmates (and teachers). Kindness.

I cried. Yup. I cried in my car in the parking lot of a bulk food store. Then I laughed at my ridiculousness and went to buy Chia (You know? Ch-ch-ch-chia!) for my smoothies because – gosh darn it – this year I am going to be BETTER! 

Just maybe not at everything, all the time, right away.