Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Salon: Confessions of a Mother

Before my daughter was born, I daydreamed about all the reading we would do together. I would hold her in my lap and read to her as she sat there, interested to hear more. I imagined that she would eagerly anticipate story time. All of the parenting experts say to start reading (and singing) to your child right away. Read to her in the womb even! Early exposure helps with language development later on as well as establishes a routine and habit--maybe even a joy of reading. And so I dreamed.

When Mouse was born, I was too consumed by every other detail of her care to think about reading to her. I was exhausted. She slept and nursed mostly. She cried a lot. I occasionally would read to during tummy time during those early weeks, but it wasn't every day. Sometimes I read whatever book I was trying to get through at the time to her, but, admittedly, that wasn't too often since my own reading had taken a nose dive. I found it much easier to sing to her--something I still do regularly. Reading wasn't my highest priority.

Eventually, my husband and I worked reading to Mouse into our daily routines, but it has yet to be how I first imagined all those months ago. You see, my daughter is extremely active. She doesn't sit still for long. She could not care less about books unless she's pulling them off the shelves, ripping covers (of my mass market paperbacks) or eating them. When on my husband's lap for her bedtime stories, she will often squirm her way down to the floor so she can go exploring or to play with something that's caught her eye. Or she will pull the book out of his hands and throw it on the floor. Repeatedly.

In the beginning, I fretted over this. Was I doing something wrong? Had I doomed her to a non-reader life because I didn't read to her every day from day one? Then I came back to earth. Mouse is just being true to her nature. She is a baby, after all, and she's acting like many babies do. It's too early to know whether Mouse will enjoy reading. She may not and that's okay. In the meantime, we do the best we can.

One of my favorite places to read to Mouse is in the bath. Who would have thought? It's the one place she can't get away! Seriously though, she seems to enjoy her bath books, whether it's listening to me read to her or taking a more active role and playing with the books, dunking them under the water and chewing on them.

I often read to her as she plays--sometimes from her books and sometimes from mine. I don't always read the words on the pages of her books, but rather point out the pictures to her and ask her questions as she flips the pages back and forth, chomping on a corner now and then, before she wanders away to something she finds more interesting.

Whatever we read or however we do it, we have fun. As far as I'm concerned, that's the most important thing. Now where did she drag that mirror book off too this time . . .


© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

32 comments:

  1. Both of my kids were little wiggle worms too. I did persist with reading at bedtime and once they got old enough (after they were beyond the "high" of learning to walk and stuff) they loved it. I even kept reading to them up until just a few years ago, tackling fun stuff like The Giver, The Graveyard Book, and the 39 Clues series. Of course now they are way too cool for that.

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    1. Mouse is just now starting to bring books to me. She'll settle in my lap for a hot minute, giving me just enough time to open the book before heading off to some other task that can't wait. LOL

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  2. Mouse looks totally engrossed in her book A good sign!

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    1. I told her when she's older I'll explain what it all means. :-)

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  3. My girls both enjoyed bedtime reading but that was about the only time we could read to them at such a young age. I'm glad you've found something that works!

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    1. I really think her bath perks her up rather than helps lull her into reading time readiness. Oh well. She's still young.

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  4. I also read to my kids at bedtimes. I had a husband who travelled during the week and kids who were finicky eaters so I would read to them at mealtimes. I got them to eat more and as we read we talked about the stories. I would often read with a baby in my lap, As the kids got older we moved from picture books to chapter books. I don't know if this will work for you but I am hoping it might.

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    1. I will have to keep the meal time reading in mind. That's a creative idea!

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  5. You're so right not to push it. It will all work out in the end as long as she's exposed to books and reading.

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    1. She's certainly got enough books around her. LOL The other day I sat in the glider in her room just to get off my feet and she came over, wanted up onto my lap and then reached over and grabbed a book off the shelf for me to read to her. I love that she associates the glider with reading time. :-) Her interest in staying on my lap was short lived, but still . . . It's a start.

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  6. Ah...we picture such perfection before our babies are born...then reality hits! Nothing is ever perfect but it is perfectly right for our own situations. I love your honesty...and Mouse's independence!

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    1. You are so right--nothing is perfect but it is perfectly right for us. :-) That's a good way to think of it. Not only about reading but about so much else as well.

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  7. You are definitely on the right track - reading to her with total respect for her nature. All of my kids were very wiggly at first, too, but eventually grew to really enjoy read-aloud time, especially when they got old enough to go to the library with me and pick out their favorite picture books for me to read. Over and over again. I still have read-aloud time every day with my kids as part of our homeschooling routine, and we have been reading some great stuff lately!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. I admit I worried at first that I was doing it all wrong, but the more I thought on it, the more I realized that I just had to go with the flow. Mouse sets the tone and I do my best to keep up. LOL

      I'm really looking forward to going to the library with Mouse. I want to start that tradition eventually. Once her first reaction to put books in her mouth goes away.

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  8. You are a good mommy!! Always, no matter what, go with your gut instincts. God gave them to you for a reason! She loves books and exploring...as she gets older she will sit on your lap and have you read the same book over and over and over and over again...Trust me on this one!

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    1. Ah, thanks, Staci! I appreciate your confidence in me. :-)

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  9. I read to The Boy while he was in the womb and he is the non-reader. The Girl crawled into my lap as early as 7 months to be a part of my reading. I still read to the boy when he was a baby, but he had to be contained...like in the bathtub for me to read to him and he only listened some of the times.

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    1. Another bathtub reader! Whew, I'm not the only one. :-) It really does come down to our children's interests, doesn't it? Some just aren't going to be readers no matter how much we expose them to our own love for books.

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  10. I read to my eldest daughter when she was in my womb... I've been hearing lots of stuff from friends or books that it's good to cultivate good reading habits from young, though personally I think it's more of creating bonds during the pregnancy stage. :P I'm not sure if it works, but my eldest daughter does read though not often (homework!). Still, I take it as a good sign. :)

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    1. I tend to agree with you, Melody. I think it helps with bonding more than anything else during that pregnancy stage.

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  11. Love this! Mouse sounds a lot like Elle when it comes to reading. I think I need to pick up some more interactive books because she does better with Pat the Bunny (except we can't smell the flowers as she wants to then eat the book) than some of the others. Also need to pick up some bath books--great idea!! There are also a few books that I've developed a sing-songy tone when I read them and I think she enjoys that (reading AND singing!).

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    1. Mouse goes back and forth with the interactive books. Mostly she dismisses them but occasionally she'll take more of an interest in them.

      One think she loves to do is pull books from my shelves and bring them to me. Then she'll go back and bring another one or two. It's so cute. My once neatly alphabetized shelves are a cluttered mess now, but I don't really mind it. :-)

      It's great when you can use voices or alter your tone when reading the books, isn't it? Mouse loves my animal sounds right now. She gets such a kick out of them and will laugh and laugh.

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  12. Sounds like you have a happy and healthy baby Wendy and I'll be very surprised if she doesn't grow up to be a reader!

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  13. I love this post! None of my kids were able to sit still for a book when they were that young...my youngest just turned 2 and he still has a tendency to want to play with the book rather than reading it. Just wait...the time will come when all she wants to do is listen to one more book :)

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    1. I am really glad to know I'm not the only person who has struggled with this!

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  14. I think it is more important that she does enjoy the time and not feel forced to do it. Little monkey will now talk through the book, no idea what he is saying but he is very adamant about it and I usually have to stop and wait for him before I can continue. I am sure they are reading to her at day care as well so it is not like she will get no exposure. Just keep it fun and you will have wonderful memories instead which is more important.

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    1. I agree, Caspette. I don't want her to feel forced to read. That takes so much of the fun out of it. Mouse likes to talk through her books sometimes too now. I sometimes will just give up reading the narrative and let her take over, commenting when I can get a word in edgewise.

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  15. Gage is on the run most of the time too, so when he's still in his high chair after he's eating we go through a few books. He likes any that have noise or flaps. He usually makes it through 2 or 3 once or twice a day. We don't read before bed, but know that we need to. There are so many things we NEED to do, right?

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    1. I really like that idea of reading to them while they are still at the table. I'm not sure how Mouse would react as she's ready to get out as soon as she finishes eating.

      Ugh. I'm there with you on the "need to do" stuff. We should just do it our way and let those who make up the "need to" lists do their own thing.

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  16. Ah, you really hit on two things I learned after raising three children - #1 you don't always have to "read" the book as long as you're still interacting with one and #2 read to them when they don't appear to be paying attention. You still get the language piece in there and they are actually absorbing much more than you think they are. Keep up the great work!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! That's what I am hoping--that my reading to her even when she's busy doing other stuff is enough to help her with her language development. And, at this point, she doesn't know enough to know the words on the page mean anything. It's so much fun making up our own stories as we go--not to mention identifying the pictures on the pages and giving them names.

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