Sunday, May 12, 2013

How I Was Raised: The Good Parts Version

Now that I'm a mother, I've suddenly started thinking about things from my own childhood I was taking for granted. Or at least... it's not so much HAVING these things I took for granted, as the GIVING of these things. How did my parents do it, and how can I pass these things on to my daughter or any other children we eventually have?

Things that repeatedly come in handy, like knowing how to read music, or slightly more intangible things, like a love of reading. Most of them seem to have something to do with either music or books, somehow.

I want to do a new series, where I consider these things one by one. What my parents did, and how we might attempt to reproduce their gifts in our own children.

No, still not a mommy blog. For starters, I don't have answers. This is me wondering aloud, with a healthy dose of gratitude for my own mother thrown in. It's easy for me to forget about the good parts, or to be sort of smug about them. ("Good grief, why are so many Christians so Biblically illiterate?") Here I want to celebrate them, as a step to maybe spreading the love.

Also I want to challenge myself: I want to tell my parents, especially my mom, that I'm grateful for these things. Even if my mom doesn't understand. (For those new to the blog, she has dementia. For everyone, I haven't written about it much here, but she's gotten a lot worse.)

So. It seems appropriate that the first one should be about reading.

The Good Parts Version Part 1:


I love to read, and grew up loving to read. My reading comprehension is excellent. I don't say that to brag, it's a gift. Some combination of the way I was raised with the way my brain is wired.

How do I pass that on?

It seems really simple and easy to me at first. Maybe it is, I'm not sure. It's relatively rare though, to find that love in this world. So thank you, Mom, for the things you did to encourage book loving, in me and in all your kids.

I've started taking steps, by reading to my girl, codename: Gracie already. She doesn't seem to understand any of it yet, mostly she likes the pictures, and she gets really mad sometimes that I generally won't let her put the non-board books in her mouth, but that's okay.

It is really weird to think of imparting this love to her, well, practically by myself, in comparison with the way I was raised. When I think about it a little more I realize it's going to be fine and that I won't be alone, but...

I had eleven older brothers and sisters. For the most part, I liked the same books they liked. They were very good at finding me more and more and more books to read. It was lovely. And then, with being homeschooled, despite all the flaws, that love of reading was just reinforced more and more.

I... don't actually know when I learned to read. See, when you're the twelfth child, these kinds of milestones aren't so much... memorialized as they are in normal families. I do have different clues, however, and they point to a pretty young age. Maybe as early as three, probably four at the latest. I'm not sure. I know that it was before Mom was going to "officially" start me in school. There were a couple subjects she let me pressure her into starting early, and they did involve reading. I really really wanted to be like my cool older brothers, and to do what they were doing.

Gracie doesn't have older brothers. And at public school, I'm pretty sure the cool kids don't love reading. As things stand right now, it's not unlikely that we'll put her in public school.

I'll be very very happy and proud of my daughter whether she learns to read at three or not. Of course. But it's weird to me to think of letting her schoolteachers teach her to read, rather than me teaching her.

On the other hand, I don't have much of an idea of how to teach someone to read, other than vague ideas about reading to them a lot. I seem to remember that's how my mother did it, but mostly I remember the early days of knowing how, not the days leading up to it. I don't remember having to learn my letters. It's all easy, right? Right?

Well, it's not something I'm very worried about at this point. Just a little different to think about. Parents passing on nerdiness, rather than siblings? That's a world I couldn't imagine as a child, despite my mother teaching me to read.

I agree with some other posts I've seen out there -- one way to teach a love of reading is to let kids read what they want (particularly liked this comment on that last link). On the other hand, I know firsthand that reverse psychology is another way -- give the kids a 7:00 bedtime and forbid them to read in bed! But I don't want to go that route.

What about you? How do you, did you, or would you impart a love of reading (or a love of anything else) to your children? What's one gift, one ability that your mother gave you, that you're particularly thankful for?

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