Saturday, October 03, 2009

The way we read . . .

I like to think that everyone has a reading style. I also like to think that mine is of the read-and-let-read variety. So, when Devyn showed interest in reading the Junie B. series, and I got excited about it, I guess I kind of assumed that she and I shared a reading style. Not so much.

"Hey, let's read a Junie B. book," I suggested this morning.

"O.K.," she bounced up. (At least, I think she bounced because she always bounces and that's my overall impression of her.)

And I actually meant that she would read it and that I would listen which would have been just fine with her except we got stuck at the Junie B. part.

"Here, let's find the first in the series."

"I want to read this one." She held it up to me as if she was holding something very precious which, if you think about it, it really is. Anyway.

"Is that the first one in the series?" I started comparing dates of copyright.

"Uh . . ."

"No, that's not the first one. This one is. It comes before that one, anyway."

She shrugged her whole body in that way that only six-year-olds have learnt to do. I knew what she was going to say . . .

"But I want to read THIS one, not THAT one. THIS is the one I want to read."

We rallied pronouns back and forth until I got caught in the net. It was her book and, ultimately, for her benefit that we would be reading. I couldn't walk away without admitting defeat. But I wasn't happy about it.

A series. It's a series and series are meant to be read sequentially, right? Does it really matter, though, if Devyn doesn't have all the information that would be available in the first book? Wouldn't there be sufficient information, anyway, in the second or third books for her to gather impressions -- however vague -- of what has gone before?

Yes, probably. But it didn't matter, at least not while we were disagreeing.

Yet I realized that we were stepping out of the matter of personal preference and into the morass of mother-child relationships. We weren't negotiating which book would be read first; we were staking territory. This is where my parental rights in the matter ended and I was clearly encroaching. I had the sense that I should not push further despite all that I believed that I had left to teach her in this area.

But I'm not surprised. In fact, I am continually amazed by the capacity of my children to teach me about this life stuff. For example, I know this wasn't the last territorial scuffle.

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