“Molly,” I say looking at Molly snuggled in her tent full of soft toys, watching something on her tablet and contorting her body into the most uncomfortable looking position but I know she is as happy, content and comfortable as a penguin in Antarctica.
I think to myself, I really need to manage her screen time. I will lose points in the imaginary ‘parent of the year race’ I am competing in if I do not do something about this today! Which is my weekend and the day I had planned to rest - but if I don’t do it today she will turn into an adult who walks around with a phone plastered to her face and not know anything about the world. Dramatic I know! Ok wind down a bit Polly, ask her nicely to go read a book, I say to myself.
“You’ve been watching that for awhile now. I think it is time you read a book.”
Molly looks up at me immediately and smiles sweetly, “but I am just getting to the good part Mummy, pretty please?”
Hmmm, I think to myself. How should I respond to this. Part of me wants to just let her carry on watching the cartoon - path of least resistance. Part of me says, be firm Polly, we need to show her that reading is very important.
“Molly, please listen. Go grab a book from the shelf and start reading please.”
Molly tilts her head to the side and looks at me. I know she is assessing my mood. She smiles and says, “I’ll read - if you read with me.” Molly looks up at me with puppy dog eyes.
I sighed. I was afraid this request would come up. I can list off the top of my head about ten things I could tick as done in the meantime though.
Why can’t she be independent enough to read on her own and develop the skill that came all so naturally to me? My mom or dad never sat with me and read with me or anything like that? Why should Molly be any different?
Come on Polly put your teacher hat on. What has your reading and training taught you? Of course, kids can learn to read on their own, of course they do not really need you to sit with them every time they read BUT their reading experience will be enhanced because you do!
I sigh because I know I am just lazy and Molly has reminded me of the importance of spending time with her which isn’t because we need to finish something for online school or make sure she finishes all her broccoli!
Molly is so much more independent, thoughtful and resourceful than I ever was as a seven year old and that is because of all the stimulation we have purposefully centred around her. To reap the benefits I need to remember to fit in time to sow the seeds right?
“Of course!” I reply trying to be far more upbeat than I feel. “What shall we read?”
Molly immediately forgets her tablet ever existed and trots after me as we head to the bookshelf. We spend some time mulling over which book to read as Molly does try to trick me by choosing a 6 page lift the flap book which still happens to be on her bookshelf. We have a good laugh about her cheekiness and then she tells me a story about something that had happened over a year ago. It was about how she couldn’t find something the teacher had asked her to look for but that another friend in her class had helped her. It was so random but so nice to hear this story of her life when she’s not with me. I pretend to flip through a book to see if it is something we would like to read now and ask her casually to tell me another story about something that happened that I don’t know about. So two stories later where she tells me about a fun, secret code she made up with her cousins when they were playing on holiday last year and the time when her teacher asked her to sing a song but she had felt so scared she had pretended she didn’t know the lyrics though she knew them like the back of her hand, I felt so content. You know that feeling that life has meaning, purpose and that this time - this is what is valuable and most precious.
“Ok, Mummy I think I’ve caught you up on some stuff, shall we read this?” Molly says startling me out of my reverie.
I laugh. “Thanks Molly, I love chatting to you like this,” I say and hug her. We nestle into a corner of the room and get lost in the pages of mystery and magic.