I’ve mentioned before how kids have wreaked havoc my brain. Maybe not in those exact words, but really, after having my first child, I am different. I have a terrible memory at the best of times, I am easily distracted, and, sadly, I could no longer read.
Sure, I could read tweets and blog posts and news stories and labels and just about everything else, but I could not find the stillness in my body and mind to sit down and read a good book.
Child number two made it harder. I was so tired. The thing is, despite my kids being five and three and generally sleeping through the night (now I’ve jinxed it!), I’m still tired. And it was around my second child’s birth that we were introduced to the most wonderful thing: Netflix. Oh the glory of binge watching television. Netflix requires no focus, no thinking. You’re suddenly four episodes of Friday Night Lights deep without even thinking twice. It was the perfect parent of small kids solution for what to do in the evenings.
The thing is, I miss reading. I love the feeling of a heavy book in my hands, turning the pages, the smell of the paper. The act of reading a good book feels so comforting, and yet I choose to do pretty much anything but read. Grey’s Anatomy reruns? The Mindy Project? Yes. Pick up one of many beautiful books I’ve bought or been given in the last six months? Not a chance.
I got on a pretty good roll last fall, reading four books in three months. Then the holidays came and I got distracted. Despite being gifted and lent some wonderful books over the holidays, reading and I have been at a stalemate since November.
My daughter, on the other hand, is five years old has just started to read on her own. Not one or two words, here and there, either. Books. She’s reading books. Simple books, sounding out each word she’s unfamiliar with and asking for help with the ones that seem daunting. She is easily frustrated with the long ones – those multiple syllables really mess with her head. She turns to me and says “I don’t know?” and expects me to read the word out to her. Sometimes I do, but more often than not I encourage her to sound it out, telling her she has to keep trying for it to get easier.
Keep reading – reading is wonderful. There are so many wonderful books to be read. Keep trying, I say to her, when I don’t even do it myself.
So that’s how this started. We’re learning to read. Together. Because I’ve forgotten the joy of diving into a book, and she is just finding it. She doesn’t even know it, but for me, it’s the perfect time to keep trying.
I’ve promised myself I’ll try to read a half hour every night. This, for many book lovers, is laughable. A half an hour? Nothing. But for me, it’s something. I think that that half hour will grow as time passes, and I won’t have to think about it as much. Just as my daughter won’t have to sound out every syllable and look up with expectation of a quick solution. Instead, maybe, we can spend that half hour reading together.
Each with our own book, in our own world.
That would be nice.
***The book pictured above is my first attempt with this challenge. You’ll notice I’m about 12 pages in. It’s Ann-Marie McDonald’s Adult Onset, and it’s supposed to be wonderful. Also, the phrase “for real life” is one of my favourite Leah-isms, and perfect for this post, no?***