The Dreaded “L” Word…the…LIBRARY

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When I was growing up, I loved reading. Books took me to strange, wonderful, magical, exciting and far off places. They introduced me to history, geography, science and helped me shape my ideals and values.

My earliest memories of having a book is when I was five. My maternal grandparents took me on a day out to the Botanical Gardens and bought me a storybook afterwards. It’s a lovely memory and one I treasure.

At the end of Class 1 (grade 1) I won a book prize for art. While waiting for my grandfather to fetch me, I read the whole book without quite realizing it. I still remember that when I finished it, I was a bit astonished…. It dawned on me that I COULD READ… And thus began a love of reading.

Reading kept me out of trouble and teenage angst. I did not read the classics but, romance, adventure, murder mysteries, spy thrillers, folk tales…. I loved it. I devoured it. And as I got older, bibliographies, South African history, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and others. I loved going to the library and would go least once a week.

So it would stand to reason that in a home where both parents love reading, love stories and have a business that involves stories, the children in that home would also love reading.

Alas, no. With one exception.

I started reading to Kuvera (9) and telling her stories from the time she was about 2 weeks old… Every single day and as she got older…every night. She loved it. She had her first library card at 17 months. We have instilled in her a real love for books…now she reads one a day.

Samara, Samara, Samara….loves stories but loves having them read to her. She would read one paragragh or one page and then play. She would feel very sleepy, very tired. Lots of excuses.

But, very slowly, she is starting to read on her own. Right now, she loves listening to Robben Island stories and has recently started Jenny Dale’s Puppy Tales series. One book a week, but, totally on her own. Very proud of her. I have to remind her to read but, she is getting there. All that listening has developed her imagination. She is a great story teller…very imaginative, very expressive, takes a bit long but, she gets there.

Now Neruna (4), on the other hand, would rather watch TV. How sad.

So, where did it go wrong? I needed to know so that I could fix it. Could be when we got satellite TV and the girls would watch a cartoon before going to bed? Could it be that we went to the library less often? Could it be that we would play a game before bed instead of reading a story? Could it be that as Kuvera was learning to read, I would ask her to read her school reader instead of me reading to the girls? Could it be that sometimes they would take the iPad to bed and play a game?

Could it just be ME? I would take the girls to bed and be so exhausted and sleepy that it was just easier if Kuvera read, if they played on the iPad, if they sang a song. Or I would be busy doing something else and would just put Neruna into bed and carry on with what I was doing. Or the older two girls needed help with their homework and she would watch TV. I just did not read to her as often as I should have. No excuses.

And then this year when Neruna started preschool she would finish at 12 pm and we would have to wait for Kuvera and Samara to finish school before we could go home. We would sometimes wait in the library. I would work…and Neruna would be left to colour or draw or play with her toy animals or page through a book…So a bit tired and a bit sleepy, she started hating the library…a place she associated with me working and her not being allowed to speak.

She hated having to be quiet. She hated having to sit there. She hated having to page through the books. She would suddenly be hungry or thirsty or crabby or tired or anything, just to get out of there. She would whine and fuss until we left.

Something had to be done.

So, on Monday this week, we went to the library. Just the two of us. We found a spot where no one would disturb us. I picked about four soft cover books with lots of pictures and lovely fonts. I sat on the floor and she sat on my lap. I held her close and I read the story to her. She really liked the story. We read it again and if she could help it we would have read the same story again and again. She did not fuss. She did not whine. She was not thirsty or hungry or sleepy. I think she just enjoyed the fact that I focussed on her. I did not leave her to her own devices while I worked on my iPad. I did not tell her to shush. I did not tell her to sit down and stop running around. Small baby steps. But, it’s working. We went back yesterday for about 15 minutes and this time, SHE found a book. So, I think we will be going back, just the 2 of us (minus the iPad), much more often.

I still have not read to her at bedtime because there’s so many things to do but, I think we can find about 15 minutes everyday before her sisters finish school. Mummy and Neruna time. Yeah, can’t wait.

THIS PIC WAS TAKEN EARLIER THIS YEAR. NERUNA WAS SO TIRED, SHE JUST FELL ASLEEP AT THE LIBRARY.

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Oh, where has the time gone?

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Oh dear, just remembered that it has been ages and ages (a year actually) since I last blogged. Time files. So much has happened since my last post. 

We’ve moved house (twice), my little one has started preschool, I am more involved in our business, in fact, our business has actually taken a new direction, we have an actual physicalI office as opposed to working from home, the girls have grown, I have grown, I’ve become an aunt again, my sister is back in Durban, I have made some new friends and found old ones… As I said, a lot has happened.

 

Hopefully, I will get my groove with regards to writing. So, here’s to many more posts.

Been there, done that, got the degree

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My husband and I recently helped our daughters (seven and eight) with their school projects for this term. It was great to spend family time doing something productive and creative. It was wonderful to learn about planets, horses, currency and a local building together. But, at the back of my mind I kept wondering if we were doing too much.

Yes, they are still little (at least I think so). Their little fingers were not able to do some of the things. But, seriously, why would a teacher ask her class to do something that they were not capable of doing on their own? Either she expects parental involvement or she thinks they are more capable than they really are. I know for a fact that my 8 year old would not be able to make the basic structure for a mobile on her own. She would also not be able to source out the materials without our help.

So, the mobile with the planets were made and handed in (after phoning about six different stores trying to find a supplier who sold polystyrene balls and then driving 30 minutes to purchase it). We all really enjoyed working on it. Then it seemed as though we were suddenly inundated with speeches and projects, which the girls expected us to help them with. This was not on. Were they now just being spoilt or just plain lazy?

In the end we did help. I think it was mostly because we did not want them to present something that was not up to the class standard. Maybe it’s the competitive part of me. I also did not want their self-esteem knocked.

This term’s projects have been a learning for me. I once asked a lady with three grown daughters what was the best parenting tip she could give me, and she said that it was to make them independent. It makes sense. After all, there is a great satisfaction in completing something on your own. The experiences we have as children shape the adults we become.

So, next term I will teach them to pace themselves. Not leave things for the last minute. I will teach them time management, how to research a topic for a speech, and invite them to take the lead for their projects. My husband and I will still help, but they must understand that it’s their homework, so they have to direct us.

Aah, the Pressure of a Good First Impression

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So I created this blog about two weeks ago and just found it really difficult to post something. Why? It actually wasn’t the kids calling me a million times or the phone or the dog or the cat or my husband.

It was plain and simple wanting to create a good first impression with whoever read this. Apparently when you meet someone for the first time, it takes about three seconds for an impression to be created. Likewise I find that when I pick up a book, if the first line is great then I read the next and the next and I know it will be a great read.

I initially wanted to write a little about me, but that ended up so long-winded. Then I wanted to write about why I am a vegetarian but, oh boy, that sounded so self-righteous. So it was on to other ideas …. To move or not to move, ways to stimulate gross motor skills with young kids, a great idea for a seed project … But they were all a bit much for a first post so finally I decided … Just write, something, anything and get on with the next post.

So, this is it. Something, anything …