An Ode to Words

I recently went to a talk on school readiness. To be honest, my friend Sue bullied me a little into going, but I’m really glad she did. (Hi Sue! Love you!)

I left feeling very nervous about whether Daniel was ready for Grade 1 or not and determined to find time (did you just fall off your chair laughing?) to tick those all-important milestones between now and January 2013. The broken arm has been a bit of a setback from a physical perspective and we are worried about his ball skills, so there’s lots of work to be done there.


Last night we were all reading on the floor as we do every night (and by “we” I mean Etienne and I take turns) and Daniel was trying to read the words. He can make out some of the 3-letter-words already and is absolutely desperate to read the rest. It was like something has just clicked for him lately and he was very impatient about being read to. I was very happy for us to spend the time trying to spell out the words of The Three Little Pigs, but the Sussies were having none of it last night and kept rushing us. I felt quite sad about it as it was already quite late, but from now on one of us will read to the girls and the other will read with Daniel.

This is a very big deal to us. I can still remember when I learnt to read, my whole life opened up before me and I have been a voracious reader all my life (Etienne more so, believe it or not). We have spent hours and hours reading to the kids, the same books over and over and over again. They each fall asleep clutching a book most nights.

So, our children might not ever turn out to be Olympic athletes, but they might love words as much as we do.

And that is more than enough for us.

Can you still remember when you started reading?

Any suggestions for easy Afrikaans readers for Daniel?

Edit to add: I called Daniel’s teacher this afternoon asking about suggestions for books.  There was a letter from her waiting when I got home asking for us to send Daniel for a language assessment with a Speech Therapist.  Would it have been that hard for her to give me a heads up when we spoke earlier?  I know it’s not about me, but isn’t it just a little cold to not say anything or bother to contact us?  Or do I expect too much?

Fun and games

Etienne and I take turns to read to the kids at night and make lunches for the next day.  It generally takes longer to prepare lunches, but the chance of injury is considerably less.

This is how it goes:

At the appointed time we have a race down the passage to the bathroom where we fight to brush teeth and end up wiping toothpaste off every available surface.  After shouting because Daniel scraped his dropped toothpaste off the floor with his toothbrush.  Or because someone tried shoving their toothbrush up the spout of the tap.

But I digress.

We then arrive in the girls’ room where we put their pillows on the floor.  (At this point I need to add that this whole lying-on-the-floor-reading-thing was not my idea.  I blame Etienne for this incredible lack of judgement.)  We then have an extended negotiation about who wants what book.  Followed by another extended negotiation about who gets to go first.

And this is where it gets dangerous.  Reading to the child in question entails the child being read to lying on Mommy/Daddy’s back.  Which is more of a bouncing repertoire of knees to the parental kidneys on a good night.  This is after hopping up and down on your back.

The children that are not directly being read to ask where things are in the book.  They specifically ask about things that are in plain sight on the pages of books that they have read approximately 400 000 times before.

The children that are not directly being read to are also always keen to brush hair. Specifically the hair of the parent that is trying to read whilst being used for a trampoline whilst fielding questions on the picture content of the book.

You know what’s the saddest about all of this?  I absolutely love the chaos of reading time.  I love being in such close proximity to my kids so I can rub my cheek against that of the child lying on my back or tickle the back of one of them lying next to me.  I love that they love books and don’t fight about being read to. I love that they love being with us.  And I love their clean just-bathed-ready-for-bed smell.

So, much as I whine about chaos I love it.  Do I really want angelic children that sit quietly whilst being read to? Hell. No.

Just a quick pic share for posterity even though they were posted on twitter and FB:

Yesterday morning in our bed just before the morning chaos
Mignon asked for pink nails so we had a little pamper party before bedtime