By the Light of the Moon

If you don't know this already, I am a Reader. In the bedroom I share with my husband, approximately one quarter of the all wall space is covered with stacks of books, no bookshelves. In general, I can pound out reading a 400 page novel in about 16 hours (though often I "pace" myself and stick to a couple of days). I love reading, and I am damned good at it.

Another thing you might not know, my eldest son, of whom I am SO PROUD NO MATTER WHAT, has always had a tough time with reading. Long story short, his kindergarten teacher was an easy mark and didn't insist he actually learn much before she passed him, and because he didn't do as well as other children, he truly believed he couldn't read. Another kink, the kid is both seriously smart, and seriously stubborn, which means he loves learning, but only what he's interested in.

It took years to get things sorted, give Eldest the confidence to try a littler harder, to make up for missed progress. A took holding him back a year, to let him gain the maturity to have some belief in himself. It took at least two to three hours of teeth-gritting homework on mine and Husband's parts, because Eldest would have a tear-filled, self-loathing melt-down because he was convinced he was stupid. He hated reading more than anything. We tried books about things that do interest him, like science. We tried reading to him, and asking him to read to us. We tried talking to a shrink. We tried everything we could think of in the realms of tough love and positive reinforcement. Guys, it was an every single day heartbreak, and it was probably made worse by how well the middle brother reads and loves school, and how much I love to read. I imagine he compared himself to us and despaired. We told him over and over that everyone is better at some subjects than other; that I suck like no one's business at math, that Middle son doesn't have a lick of common sense, that the Daddy Man lacks creativity. We said, "It's okay if you don't like reading as much as we do; that's cool. You just have to have the skills, so you can learn more about what you DO love." He said he believed us, but I'm not sure.

By the beginning to middle of this year, he was reading at levels three grades higher than the grade he's in. Even taking a year away for the held-back year, that's two grades above his age. He still didn't much care for reading, but he could do it, and he knew he was better than average at it. You just don't know, people, how relieved we all were. Oh, he was still stubborn, still independent, even a little dismissive of subjects he didn't want to learn, but he learned them, albeit with little interest. And he hates history and science chapter reviews. That's fine. He can hate the reviews all he likes.

But you guys . . . YOU GUYS, LISTEN.

The other night I had to get onto him for not going to sleep at bed time. I actually went in to the room to tell him to turn off his light, thinking he'd left it on as a night light. But no; He was still wearing his glasses, and just as I came in I detected the tell-tale crackle of paper being quashed under a blanket.

He'd been sneak-reading A REAL BOOK UNDER HIS COVERS. GUYS! READING FOR PLEASURE! MY ELDEST "HATES READING" SON!!!! Do you understand the words coming out of my monitor right now?

I calmly told him to put away the book (a Percy Jackson novel, in case you wondered), turn of his light, and go to sleep . . . and then I promptly closed the door, tip-toed back to the living room where Husband and I had been movie watching, and did what is likely the dorkiest-looking HAPPY DANCE in known history. Husband and I grinned at each other like idiots for five solid minutes.

So, dear teachers who have believe in Eldest, dear husband who helped weather that storm, and for goodness' sake, dear Rick Riordan, THANK YOU.

Personal Note: While I was always an awesomely capable reader in school, I didn't actually come to LOVE reading until I was eleven years old. The first book that really sucked me in was a Babysitter's Club book, something about a summer vacation. After that, I read like a maniac, first every BC book our library had, and then I branched out all over the place. Guess how old Eldest just turned? Yup. Eleven. *beams*