Over the past three months, Chipmunk has gone from efficient recitation sort of reading to full blown reading all the things, with inflection and punctuation and goofy voices and omfg he’s reading. The key with him seemed to be figuring out that he didn’t need to read chapter books. He could read science books and signs and subtitles and video game instructions and every damn thing ever. Which appeared to get him over that hump of “I don’t waaaaannnnnttttt to.” He’s halfway through first grade and he’s reading at an upper second grade level in a small group with two other kids. I’m so happy the school is able to accelerate him like that. I am giddy.
I started reading early and read books all the time. I read in the swimming pool, in the bath tub, in the car, at the dinner table. I read everything I could get my hands on. My secret heart’s wish has been for Chipmunk to develop a love of reading, but I haven’t pushed him–especially since he seems to skew more toward science and math. But holy cow, he’s into it now. He’s not really into stories that much, but any little thing he reads thrills me. It’s the coolest thing to share with him so far. (Sharing interests with my kids is one of the best perks of parenting. The Aquabats! Riding roller coasters together! Watching The Sound of Music! Frozen yogurt!)
Tonight, he took things to a level I really didn’t expect. I asked him to stop playing Kinect so he could clean his room for an hour and he flipped out as he always does when I suggest any amount of room cleaning. I started to get angry and dive right into yelling psychomom mode when I glanced at a yellow notepad on the desk. My mom’s always used these yellow notepads. Ever since I was a little girl. They’re symbols of organization and order and reason.
“I have a special job for you,” I said, as I wrote down four tasks. I told him that if he did each of the four things I wrote down, I’d give him 50 cents a task:
- pick up Lego minifigures
- put books on the bookshelf
- put the DVDs in the DVD box
- pick up the extra toys
“What’s my mission?” he asked, suddenly excited. SCORE. SCORE A MILLION POINTS FOR WORKING AROUND STUBBORN MCASSHAT’S AVERSION TO CLEANING. He ended up finishing three tasks (running to me with the notebook and pen to check each off) before deciding to take a “break” for an unspecified amount of time, which is still totally a win in my book because after the first three or four times I’ve gotten totally sick of organizing Lego bricks in order to vacuum the small rug in his room.
Anyway, later on, he took the notepad over to me and asked, “Can I keep this?” I asked him why and he said, “I want to write all about my life in it.”
I stared at him trying to keep my shit together and eventually managed to squeak, “I can buy you a diary or notebook or journal if you’d like, that would work better and it wouldn’t rip.” BE COOL. BE COOL.
He said that’d be great (!!!!) and ran off with a pen and the yellow notepad to make a list of characters, enemies and powers as part of the story of his life. Then he gave each one a point score on power/awesomeness. (I scored 20 out of 100.) (His brother scored zero.)
HE IS WRITING. FOR FUN. WRITING THINGS DOWN. IN A NOTEBOOK. I had to make him stop writing and go to bed eventually. I finally caved on playing it cool and squeezed him tight and said, “You know, Mama is a writer so it makes me very very excited that you are enjoying writing things down.” He said goodnight and then whispered to me in the dark, “I can’t wait to write down places tomorrow.”