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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How (not) to encourage a child's love of reading

Audrey LOVES having books read to her. Her idea of a perfect world would just be sitting on someone's lap while they read her books all day long, with regular breaks for snacks and juice. Even if she's in Level 5 Meltdown mode, sit down with a book and she'll be happier than a pig in shit.

However, as with everything Audrey does, there have been plenty of mishaps and misfires along the way. Here are some of the ways that her love of reading has blown up in my face:

When she wants you to read her a book, it is not f***ing optional

When it's time to read, Audrey becomes a rude and demanding tyrant.

I might be sitting on the floor with her, playing Legos or whatever, and then she will suddenly stand up and head over to her book pile, picking whichever one she wants to hear at that moment. And she will bring it over to me and throw it at my face.

I imagine if she could talk real words, she'd be saying something like "Read me this book, peasant."

And I do. I always do.

And if you think there are activities that exempt you from reading for a moment, think again.

"Oh hi, are you busy?"

"Just whenever you get a chance."

(and for the record, I was peeing, not pooping. I wouldn't put a photo of myself pooping on the internet. A drawing, sure, but not a photo. I have at least that much self-respect)

She thought that the Miracle on 34th Street DVD case was a book, and became furious when we would not read it to her

I shouldn't say "thought", as that would imply that this happened in the past. Audrey still thinks the Miracle on 34th Street DVD case is a book, and no matter where I hide it, she finds it and follows me around the house whining and throwing it at me. I have opened the case many times to show her the DVD inside it, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. She thinks it's a book, and dammit she wants someone to read it to her.

"Also, if you could read me this rental book, that would be great." 

"Just picking out which rental book I would like you to read me next."

She thought a wrapped present under the tree was a book, and became furious when we would not read it to her

Now, in her defense, the present is in fact a book. But it is not for her, and it is wrapped in Christmas paper and festooned with a shiny red bow. How in the hell did she think we were going to be able to read it to her? It doesn't even open!

Still, she keeps going back to the tree and taking this gift, following Jesse and me around the house in a desperate bid to get us to ... what, unwrap it and read it? She doesn't care about any of the other presents -- just the book. The kid loves reading.

She became enraged when I would not read her "When the Mob Ran Vegas: Stories of Money, Mayhem and Murder"

Just so we're clear, this 240-page book was on my bookcase upstairs, wedged tightly between copies of "Catch-22" and "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." I don't know how she even got it out of there, but she did, and she wants me to read it to her.

At one point, I thought if I sat her down and started reading it, she'd realize it was way above her level (and no pictures!) and she'd lose interest. And I was right -- she lost interest for about thirty seconds. Then she was right back to throwing the book in my face.

Total kids' book for sure.

... especially the back cover:

Her favorite book is a photo album filled with nothing but pictures of her

She is so obsessed with this book that I actually had to hide it from her, because she will go through it on her own and bend/rip all the pages. When we do sit down together to read it, she just points at picture after picture saying "ah-tee", which is her version of her own name. If I'm in one of the pictures, I say "where is Mommy?" and she just points at herself and says "ah-tee." If I take too long to turn the pages, she screams. She wants to look at all the pictures of herself, goddammit!

I honestly don't know where she could have possibly gotten this narcissism. Jesse and I are both so famously self-effacing.

Haha get it? Because we're flamboyant narcissists as well, but I'm being adorably self-deprecating about it?? That shit is hilarious. Laugh, bitch.

She uses books to make me feel inadequate as a mother

I have mentioned before that Audrey once pulled hard at my heart strings by toddling across the kitchen crying while clutching a copy of "Are You My Mother?" But she got me even worse the other day: toddling across the kitchen crying while clutching a copy of "Who Loves Baby Audrey?"

"Does anyone?"

So of course I dropped whatever I was doing and sat down on the floor with her ... and all she did as we flipped through the book was point at the pictures of her damn self and say "ah-tee!"

At least Audrey loves baby Audrey. You're on the right track, kid.

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