As a homeschool parent, teaching my children to read is one of the top terrific things I’ve experienced as a mama. One particular student I taught was fond of monster trucks and potato chips; these were the rewards he chose for me to give him if and when we completed the book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. For when he told me he wanted to learn to read, he wasn’t five-years-old yet, and I couldn’t picture my rambunctious young fellow sitting still for one hundred not-so-thrilling reading lessons.
I was right—it wasn’t easy. He got bored; he was tempted to daydream and do anything but pay attention. But my middle son is a determined young guy who rarely quits anything he’s started. So when he struggled to be studious, he would recite the phrase, “monster truck and a big bag of chips.”
It worked. He zeroed back into the boring book, and within minutes we were able to check off another lesson – done. He was not going to quit while visions of a new toy monster truck and a bag of chips were up for a grab and a gobble.
Teaching him to read was a mother and son bonding time for us. He was the middle child of a three-kids-five-and-under family. We rarely had a two-minute stretch of uninterrupted time together; these lessons were an oasis of fifteen minutes a pop.
Each day, while his baby sister was napping, we’d cozy up on the big green wool sofa that was older than the two of us combined. He’d often bounce around shirtless like Mowgli from the original print version of The Jungle Book because that was what we were reading at the time; I decided if his being shirtless helped him pay attention—so be it.
One hundred lessons passed by and prizes were awarded to the newest reader in the family. His grin grew giant-sized as I handed him the truck and chips. And though he’s now old enough and big enough to eat a truckload of chips (What teenager couldn’t?), I remember those lessons like it was this afternoon.
But this afternoon I witnessed another momentous milestone; I watched him drive his own red truck he’d picked out and paid for himself. He drove it up our driveway and parked it in place while I placed my finger on the shutter button of my camera. It wasn’t that I needed the reminder picture of what happened there in front of my mama eyes—I took it for him. I might not be around when his future son learns to read a book or drive a truck, but I wanted this memory to be there so he could share it with his children.
I took more pictures than he wanted me to because that’s what mamas do. We love on our kids, and then we scoot off somewhere private to brush away the tears we don’t want our sons to see.
Where does time go? How does it whiz by so fast that I feel like a character in a comic strip whose story is being scribbled down at lightning speed and all I want to do is slam on the brakes and shout, “Hold on, Mr. Time—what’s the big hurry?” I want another reading lesson on the couch where my son whispers, “Monster trucks and a big bag of chips.” I want to hug him long and hear him laugh instead of him saying, “Aww, Mama, I’m not your little boy anymore.”
But I look at the truck and see him pleased as a bare-chested Mowgli while he tinkers and polishes a life-size “monster truck” of his own.
It’s good. All of it. Really—it is.
Wendy L. Macdonald is a Canadian, inspirational writer/blogger/podcaster who also loves to photograph nature. When she’s not writing, drawing, gardening, or sewing, she enjoys hiking, with her husband, in the beautiful parks of the Comox Valley. She homeschooled her children and believes all those years of reading wonderful classics aloud helped develop her love of storytelling and writing. Wendy invites you to visit her blog: www.wendylmacdonald.com where you will find nature photography and links to her “Daily Bread” style Facebook page and other social media sites. Her passion is inspiring others to walk with faith, hope, and love. You can hear her podcasts at www.hopestreamradio.com/program/walking-with-hope
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