I asked my 4 year old to spell "cat" yesterday. I do that every once in awhile during the day to make myself feel better. You know, we can't go out and play with other kids, and most of the time I'm too tired to do anything really great with her during the day. So, I throw an "educational" question at her and see how she fairs. It fulfills my good mom status. She spelled it correctly, and so I asked her another one. Then I realized that she was sounding out the word in order to spell it. I said, "Morgan, if you can spell, you can read." I got out our old standby, the Dick and Jane book that my grandmother gave us when we started having kids. She said that it was her textbook in school, and it's how she learned to read.
I turned to the first story in the book, handed it to Morgan and watched as she sounded out the words and read her first book. At one point in my life, I may not have mentioned this to many people. I would have told family and close friends. I would have considered retelling the story over and over to be "bragging." I'm different now. And you bet your ass I'm going to tell everyone I know that my little girl has learned how to read. Do you know what changed? I now know that milestones reached are to be celebrated. I know that I had very little to do with the fact that she is reading. Sure we read often to our children and we work with them when we think about it. But, I had absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that she was dealt a lucky hand. Her brain works like it's supposed to, and she hasn't had to overcome any obstacles in her young life, save the few skinned knees we've fixed with a kiss. She can hold the book on her own. She has the ability to focus her attention long enough to learn new words. And yes, she's very smart, but she's also a very lucky little girl to have been given the tools to read.
I watch as she sounds out the first few words. Her mouth moving, her eyes shifting from the page and then up at me with a look of uncertainty. And then, that smile and look of recognition as she realizes that she has just correctly read the word, "funny." I laugh at her white-knuckle grip on her new favorite toy as she turns the pages faster and faster. Every once in awhile, she looks up at me, her eyes shining and she's smiling at me as if to say, "Can you believe I'm doing this?"
And I can't stop hugging her, can't stop from telling her how very proud I am of her. I now have three children who can read, and I was absolutely enthralled when my first two children showed me their new trick. Somehow this third time around is even more precious, because it reminds me that although I'm one of those "special needs" moms, I'm also just a regular old of-course-my-child-can-read-mom. Very few things in life will give you a thrill like watching your child learn how to read. And it's true, Dick and Jane never saw it coming, but I'm happy to say that Mommy did!