When Reading Is Hard: Slice of Life 9/31 #sol17

slice of life

“I don’t feel like reading,” my son tells me. “I’m tired.”

Of course he’s tired. He’s been in avoidance mode for at least four hours. He’s worn himself out watching TV, dribbling the basketball, going for a drive, dribbling the basketball, running errands, dribbling the basketball, playing with the cat, dribbling the basketball, even asking if he could mop the floor–then dribbling the basketball. He never did mop the floor, but you know you’ve got some serious avoidance happening when your fourteen-year-old asks if he can mop.

His reading tutor has set him up with a stack of books, a timer, a reading log, and an assignment: read for 25 minutes each day.

This sounds like a dream assignment to me–well, except for the reading log–but then, I’m not dyslexic.

“I just don’t like to read,” he says.

“I know you don’t,” I say.

“I hate it.”

“It’s not your favorite thing.”

“Even if I could do it really, really good, I wouldn’t like it. I mean, I can do it fine. I can read. It’s not like I can’t read. But even if I was really good, I would never choose to pick up a book.”

“You like to do different things.”

“I don’t like sitting still,” he says. “I’ve gotta be moving!”

“You’re very active.”

“Reading is boring.”

“It sounds like it’s not that interesting for you.”

And so it goes. He complains. I listen reflectively.

“I’m not going to do it,” he decides finally. “It’s up to me, right? I choose.”

“Yes,” I agree. “You choose. It’s up to you.”

“I mean, I already know how to read. I read just fine.”

I nod.

“I’m too tired,” he says. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

I nod again.

He picks up the basketball, bounces it twice against the hardwood floor. He shoots it across the room into a basket he has repurposed as a hoop. He retrieves the ball, bounces it twice, shoots from across the room. The ball rattles around the basket.

This time he leaves it there. He sighs.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” he says.

I expect to hear the creak of the floorboards as he disappears upstairs. Or perhaps the slam of the back door as he heads outside.

Instead, I hear some rustling in the living room and then the beep beep beep as he sets the timer for 25 minutes.

9 responses to “When Reading Is Hard: Slice of Life 9/31 #sol17”

  1. Somewhere long ago I recall this form of response for parenting. The echo. I don’t think I ever embraced it as a tactic, but I’m truly impressed with how it worked with your boy. I’m sure this is after lots of trial and error. Parenting is hard.

  2. You should be so proud of him (and yourself) for making that choice yourself. Your writing reminded me of Kwame Alexander’s Crossover. Has he read it?

  3. The conversation part was amazing. Totally painted a picture in my mind. My daughter is a struggling reader and we have some similar struggles when it’s time to read. You’ve inspired me to react differently when she says “I just don’t want to read.” Thank you for sharing!

  4. I use this tactic with my daughter often (she has ADHD). Sometimes she chooses not to do it and I have to be okay with that, too. (It’s hard, though.)

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