Books, Memories, Parenting

Reading to Readers

When my boys were beginning readers, a mom with children in college expressed a regret.

I wish I had continued reading aloud to my children, even when they were in high school.

Marilyn Rockett, Author of Homeschooling at the Speed of Life

I loved reading to my boys, so it was easy to take Marilyn’s regret to heart that day. During the middle school and high school years, we read together although audio books sometimes were a read-aloud substitute.

I read aloud for the love of sharing my favorite books with my favorite people. I didn’t fully realize we were receiving a heritage of common memories.

This past year, my youngest son called with details of a scene and asked if I remembered the book from fifteen years ago. Of course, I did. How could I forget the memoir Belles on Their Toes by Gilbreth and Carey? I was not surprised that I remembered the last book I read aloud to the entire family, but I was surprised that he did.

It turns out my sons remember even more about our books—not only their plots but where we were at the time they listened.

Any favorite read-aloud memories?

Friendship, Homeschooling, Parenting

What Covid-19 Affirmed

Right now, in my area, the Covid-19 risk is decreasing. As I watched the media coverage the first year of Covid-19, I saw celebrities discover:

Managing life at home requires skill. Lots of skill;

Not traveling whenever or wherever you want is an eyeopener;

Homeschooling is hard. Very hard;

Untrained moms and dads can homeschool;

Cooking three meals a day for weeks and weeks requires creativity;

Not having a daily hair stylist means your hair is not perfect and takes more time than you have;

Not having a make-up artist means your make-up is not perfect and takes time than you have;

Caring for children 24 hours a day is exhausting;

Slowing down brings joy;

Your children want you more than the stuff your money bought them.

Thank you, Rich and Famous—especially morning news anchors—for your honesty. You may have lived a radically different life from mine pre-Covid-19, but in some ways, you were like me all along.

What did you learn watching others adjust due to the pandemic?


The Fragility Of Children

A friend recently asked our book group if we looked at our children and marveled at what we had created. My immediate response was, “I actually wonder where they came from.”

After reflection, I did remember the marvel of my firstborn and thinking “This little person grew inside me.” And then I was off and running to care for him.

Now that my sons are grown, I can see the effects of genetics and family and experiences. And marvel a bit.

Adult children analyze their parents. That is a true fact. What I learned—and my sons may not realize—is that parents reciprocate. We try to solve the mystery of whom our children have become.

These musings led my husband and me to one fundamental conclusion. Children are fragile. More fragile than we can imagine. They may rumble and tumble and hop right back, but that is only an outer facade. Inside, they are glass. They break over events that we consider too minor to note.

And that is why we need to address worries (see here), grievances (see here), and questions (see here)—to expose the breaks and make repairs.

Made any repairs recently? Do you need repairing?


A Jar of Questions

I love the idea of a Worry Jar (see here) and a Grievance Jar (see here). Along the way, I became convinced that a Jar of Questions could also be helpful.

No matter how well we know our family, they have buried questions—some frivolous and some not—but all important to them.

A loved daughter waited until she was an adult to ask her dad why he never carried her. All the family photos showed her in her mother’s arms; her close-in-age sister was always in her father’s arms. Why?

The simple answer was not the imaginings that a child might have. Her sister was heavier; the extra weight was too much for her petite mother’s hip to bear.

I remember the questions I couldn’t ask out loud. And the ones I didn’t remember at the right time. Like a Grievance Jar and a Worry Jar, a jar set aside to collect our questions—and facilitate answers—could be healing.

Do you have any lingering questions from your childhood? Is there still time to ask?


Family Excursions

My husband and I visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden—not knowing that Labor Day was free or that there was a LEGO® exhibition.* Both led to crowded sidewalks.  Both gave me the opportunity to observe diverse family interactions.

What did I learn and wish I had known? The best family excursions do not impart knowledge.

Moments after we entered, the first LEGO® Bricks creation appeared. I heard children hollering “Butterfly, Butterfly.” 

37,481 LEGO® Bricks

Squealing children also ran through water sprinklers or gingerly avoided them. They laughingly rolled down the steep, grassy hill by the conservatory. 

The most peaceful parents were those experiencing the day through their children’s eyes, rather than forcing the reverse.  

Those parents did not audibly marvel at the creativity of the designs. They resisted the temptation to point out the hard work involved. Unlike me, they did not read the signs, which meant they did not repeat that information to their children—especially the pounds or number of LEGO® Bricks used in each figure.

60 pounds of LEGO® Bricks

Silent parents led to happy children, who determined what was amazing.

Any upcoming excursions?

* Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks created by Sean Kenney (2016)