Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Just popping in to let people know I am still alive, just life is kicking my a**.  It's a non-stop game of Whack-a-Mole, and I don't foresee its stopping any time in the near future.  Maybe when Brian goes away to college in 3 years or so?  One can hope.

This looks like fun, but it isn't.  Not at all.

We're in the middle of David's college and National Merit Finalist applications, with all the concomitant requirements and deadlines.  This is stressful, very stressful.  Brian is quickly turning into a disenchanted teen, and the loss of his cheerful countenance pains me so.  Rachel is engaging and cooperative and cheerful, but all I can think is "I've got one more year, max, before this changes."  And Susie, praise be to God, has truly caught on to reading and has been holed up for the past 2 weeks or so in her freshly painted room with the Harry Potter series.

A side note here: scientists did a study where they took identical twin babies and let one (the control, as it were) figure out how to crawl up a flight of stairs on its own while they trained the other one intensively on how to do the same thing.  Both babies learned the skill at the exact same time anyway.

This didn't work for us.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, my oldest (Theo) was the only other really late reader in our family; I pretty much let him be until I saw him picking up books and trying to puzzle them out, at which point I did some intensive phonics with him for maybe 4 or 6 weeks.  He learned to read at the age of 9 years and 3 months.

But for all these years, I've wondered whether or not I should have been pushing him sooner, doing more phonics, etc.  Maybe I had done him a disservice by being so laid back about the whole reading thing.  So along comes Susie (aka Guinea Pig #6), who also seemed to have no desire to read on her own.  Oh, I worked on that child, people.  I tortured her with phonics lessons for 2 straight years, but guess when she finally took off with the reading.  Anyone?

That's right - 9 years and 3 months.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, Whack-a-Mole - despite the craziness that is my life right now, I decided that I have lost the habit of reading real books and magazine articles that are longer than a page.  I set a new goal for myself of reading my New Yorker cover to cover (instead of just glancing at the cartoons and then misplacing it) and also reading an entire book each week.  I know! So 20th century of me, right?

I started with The Handmaid's Tale (by Margaret Atwood).  I knew the book was some sort of dystopian story, but people - I was so depressed at the end of it, I could barely convince myself to get out of bed the next day.  I'm unloading it on PaperbackSwap if anyone is interested (friend me - I'm suburbanmama), just to get it out of the house.

I decided to follow that up with something inspirational and tried The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It was an excellent antidote, and it also made me realize that, if David had been born in Malawi?  He would have been the one supplying his entire village with power by building a windmill out of scraps from the town junkyard.  It almost made me feel guilty for not letting my resident tinkerer junk up his room more - who knows what he would have invented by now?

I have more to share (I met another blogging friend in person - I'm on a roll!), but it will have to wait until tomorrow.  I've got to go pick up my mallet again; these moles are getting out of control.


  1. I felt that same way about The Handmaid's Tale.

    I wonder if 14 is too late to "find" reading? My kid still isn't there.

  2. I just had to endure that exact Whack a mole game yesterday. The 6th and final child found it in the basement when I was cleaning the basement of all unused toys and junk. He's taken a liking to it. I still don't like it.
    AND I read the book about the boy building a windmill. As I read I wondered, why don't my kids do helpful stuff like that?
    Glad your youngest has jumped on the reading wagon.

  3. Whack-a-mole describes not only my home life but my work life perfectly.

    College applications and the like are EXTREMELY stressful - you have my sympathy.

    I read the Handmaid's Tale after my son had to read it for school a few years ago - and yes, while depressing, it did lead to some deep discussions.

  4. Love the perspective you have on your kids' reading times---it's quite helpful for those of us (ME) still in the stressing-about-it stages.

  5. Oh, The Handmaid's Tale was so depressing, huh? Argh! Applications are a stressful thing. I appreciate that you posted your findings on allowing learning to take place naturally. Why fight it ... Okay, back to MY mallet! Ha!

  6. I had to read The Handmaid's Tale in high school. I read Cat's Eye then too. I kept reading her books for quite a while but I'll tell you, they just got more and more dystopian and depressing and I stopped.

    I'm also whacking moles but lately I've sort of been eating more pb cups than anything else, which is probably a sign I'm giving up.

  7. I finally went and paid my $2 fine at the library and then requested a ton of books I've had on my to read list forever (that were to expensive on the Kindle). It's kind of nice to read a real book again. I devoured 2 on my vacation and now I've been carrying another around with me for a couple days.

    My son is a slow learner on a lot of things. It's a bit frustrating grade wise for him at school but I know in the big picture when he's grown it's not going to matter if the didn't get a good grade in reading.