For the Love of Reading

According to our seventh grader, he read a 401-page book yesterday afternoon. He reads so quickly that we used to doubt his retention. But when we’d ask him to tell us about the story or his favorite character, he would provide every detail, every twist and turn.

I always wondered how you could enjoy a book if you didn’t linger over it.

But as he read yesterday, curled in a chair, his too-big-for-his-body feet hanging over the chair’s arm, a grin would spread across his face, and he’d say, “Mom, do you want to hear a good line?”

Be still, my heart!

And then he’d read me a well-written description or funny phrase that made you visualize a moment perfectly.

Even better, in-between perfectly written sentences, his face would burst into a smile over this plot twist or the next. An amusing comeback. And I don’t know what else.

I could have watched him read for hours…but then he finished the book.

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The Last Hours Before the Deadline

One night in high school, my Dad stayed up all night with me while I drafted a research paper for school. I do not remember which paper it was or why I was so late getting to it. I wrote in my barely legible longhand, passed him a finished page, and then he typed it for me on his IBM Selectric typewriter. We worked in the basement to make sure the typing didn’t wake up my mom or sisters. I am sure I cried at least once.

It was my first and only all-nighter. I felt so sick the next day that I pledged never to put off big projects again.

And today, I am paying the universe back for my father’s good deed and late night support about thirty years ago.

With my seventh grader sitting at the computer moaning about not having enough sources or ideas for how to expand 30 notecards to the required 40 – and making no progress for at least an hour – I couldn’t help myself. We spread out his 30 somewhat repetitive notecards on my bed and put them in order, looking for holes in the story.

Then, I asked questions.

“You always make things so much harder than they need to be!” he responded. Still, he Googled the answers, and turned them into more notecards. I reminded him of other sources he could use.

“You are stressing me out!”

Another notecard.

I told him to find a good quote in the book he is reading. Another card until he had 50. He renumbered them, still spread across the bed, then bound out the door after his brothers, already enjoying their snow day.

It banged shut on my “but you still have to do the outline!”

Just giving what I owe the universe, and hoping it’s done before midnight.

Last Night’s Quotes at My House

“Yep, I need my own laptop. Yes, I do,” said the seventh grader who is not getting his own laptop. He often mumbles it under his breath as he passes me in the kitchen, on the stairs, going to bed at night.

“Did Jeb Bush win?” asked my second grader, who chose Jeb for President after watching one of the early Republican debates. “His speech was so good and he sounds like a really nice guy. He should win.” A future political talk show host.

“One on one conversations with alcohol are my wheelhouse,” said my husband. “I’ve trained for them my whole life.”

That’s just one night.

Imagine the Ponzi Schemes….

At dinner the other night, the family was ganging up on our seventh grader. We were betting that, after failing to bring home a book report form that day, he would not remember it again.

“Who thinks he’s going to forget it again?” And we all raised our hands.

It is a good thing he has a sense of humor. “How about if I forget it, I pay you each $5? But if I remember, then you each pay me $5.”

“No way!” we yelled in unison.

But his brother hatched a plan. “How about if you forget, you pay us $5, and if you remember, you only pay us $1? It’s a win-win!” Big grin.

Apparently, in his mind, a win-win does not benefit both parties. It’s a win for him… twice.

Not sure if he really thinks that’s what it means or it’s just another occasion when he is turning the world to his advantage.