From pickles to pancakes.

June 21st, 2011

Little mouth forming shapes, voice not yet daring to speak.
Then courage tiptoes in, a whisper faintly heard……..
“pppp…..” nearly there I patiently hold my breath…..yes you can do it I will my 6y r old silently.
“ppppp….” She tries again.
“pickles?” she questions, little eyes willing me to affirm her best attempt.
Oh I wish it were pickles, but I gently say,
“Good try, close, it’s actually pancakes”
Then we both burst into laughter, as pickles really isn’t anything like pancakes. She knows I’m just being a mum at this point, encouraging and softening the blow of misread words. Gently sweeping away the stumble with love. She see’s through me, she doesn’t mind, she laughs.

A child learning to read has to be one of my favourite parts of parenting. Right up there with cuddles and trust. Their mouths trying with all their little might to get just the right shape. Then that little voice with all the certainty it can muster with a ton of hope weighing it down, finally delight. Oh the delight.

How easy it is for us adults to jump in all too quickly, end the suffering, blurt out “pancakes” after the first attempt. We know the puzzle; they haven’t yet found the hidden key. I just want to unlock it all, kick that book wide open, walk on in and dance ahead. But now this is her turn. Tonight it was pickles followed by laughter, tomorrow she will read pancakes.

There will be more words, more mistakes, and more laughter. I hope her spirit will remain as willing and courageous as it is this very night. And I hope I can keep my mouth shut long enough to let her figure it out.

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  1. Steve Platt says:

    Very wise last line, Meg.  At 70 I am just now learning that for everyone I meet.

  2. Natasha says:

    Having just sat with my 6 year old as we did her reading, this was a good reminder to cherish these moments.  Sometimes I supply the word for her, in those moments that I want to get on with other tasks.  Tonight she got there by sounding out and I marvelled at how incredible this little human I made is, learning to function in our world, the capability to understand the written word. Just now, there was also a little voice in my head that grumbled about how many words are in her books now she has moved up a group, how much longer the books take to read.  Thank you for the reminder at how precious these moments are, and how privileged I am to witness her learning in such a real way.