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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feeling Unneeded

Yesterday, the librarian called saying the book tape that Little Boy had put on hold was in and ready to be picked up. He was so excited. "Can we go get it, Mom? Can we go get it!!"

In the last couple of months he has taken it upon himself to "read" all the Harry Potter books. Originally, he was listening to the book tapes and at one point he told me that he was going to actually read the final book all on his own. Books one through four were at the library on book tape, so he has been spending a lot of time carrying a CD player around, listening to the stories in the car, in his room, at the kitchen table. It's been fun reliving the story through him.

Then he got to book five and the library copy was checked out. He thought maybe this was his cue to start reading on his own, but after struggling through the first paragraph or so of the book(maybe it was just the first sentence) he asked me if it was a book we could read together. His reading skills are just starting to really come online and he's not quite up to Harry Potter on his own yet. I was thrilled, of course, because reading with my kids has always been one of my favorite activities.

At one point, he asked me if I could do the voices as I read. I tried, but he shut down my efforts after only a page or two. "You'd better just read it straight," he said with a sigh.

So I wasn't quite up to par with the professional, but I have been getting in lots of good cuddle time as Little Boy and I have been making our way through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Then I picked up the book tape at the library yesterday and he brought me the bound copy of the book last night.

"Here," he said. "We don't need to keep this on the table anymore."

He and his dad were cleaning up the project room.

"You don't want to read it together anymore?" I asked.

"Nah. I don't need you," he said with a grin.

I'm going to miss the cuddle time, but I guess this frees us up for the shorter books that he can read to me on his own. Yesterday, he read me the first half of a Robert Munsch story. Since his interest in reading on his own has really blossomed in the last half year or so, he has made rapid progress.

I like the way that he is picking up books now, undaunted by their size or the number of words on the page. Of my three kids, he has been the most open about the process of learning to read, the most likely to talk about what he knows and what he sees and how it all fits together for him. He and I actually embarked on a phonics program, a first in my experience as a mother, but it seemed to fit with the way his brain is wired. He has absolutely loved it.

"You know, reading is not what I thought it would be," he told me the other day. "I thought you had to really read each word, to put all the letters together and sound it out. But now I just look at the words and I know them. Sometimes it feels like guessing, and then I'm right."

We are entering a new era, he and I. For him, it will be a time of immediate satisfaction. No longer having to wait for a parent or his sisters to interpret what is on the page or the screen for him, he'll be off on his own, exploring all those topics the rest of us might not have had much patience for.

For me, it feels a bit like I'm climbing into the backseat of my children's lives. I'm still here; I don't see my input and participation completely fading, but the more immediate "need" for my services seems to be rapidly diminishing. My children read for themselves. They tackle topics I know nothing about and they teach me things I never knew I was interested in.

They are all completely capable of cooking for themselves. Another few turns of the hourglass and I'll have one literally driving into yet another era of independence.

Now it's my job not to mourn this passing moment.

But I can't help but feel a tiny bit sad.

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