Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Childhood: Learning to Read

Every Wednesday I'm going to (try to) post a memory from my childhood. As I mentioned before, the reason for this is because I really don't remember all that much, and I'm hoping that by actively thinking about it every week, I'll start to put the pieces together.

When I was about two or three we moved out from the city into the country and one of the results of that move was that mom began to home school us. For my two oldest brothers who had already been in school some time, I imagine it was hard to go from hours surrounded by people your age 5 days a week, knowing the kids on your street, and other sorts of public school-ish things. But for my third brother and I, it wasn't really any different than what we had already been doing our whole lives--learning from mom.

I remember dying to know how to read. I wanted to know what was in all those books. I remember asking mom a lot about when she would teach me. It wasn't more than one or two years after we moved that the time finally came for her to teach my third brother how to read. I was so ready to learn, I couldn't wait.

Imagine mom, 5'10", sitting in her 70's green swivel chair turned away from her desk, leaning over with I think it was a Leap Frog reading book. My third brother, always tall for his age, was kneeling in front of her and off to the side a little bit, trying to make sense of the ink on the page. She held the pages out with one hand on the binding, and with the other traced the magic first words that so many kids learn to read, "See Spot run." He's dyslexic, so he's always had problems putting the letters in the right order.

They were both so focused, both telling me to wait my turn, but I didn't want to. I wanted to learn everything. So I crept behind my brother, and stood on my very tippy toes, balancing with a hand on a bookshelf beside me, following mom's finger with my eyes as she explained the words. I could read along with her!

She started to ask my brother to read the words out loud to her and I got so excited that I could read them I just couldn't wait for him to figure it out, so I started to "help" him.

That didn't go over too well.

But I was so excited to learn that I didn't care that my brother yelled at me or that I had to keep silent the rest of the time we were learning. I just remembered eagerly standing on my tippy toes, soaking up every variation of "See Spot run" with the eagerness of a puppy around new people.

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