Friday June 22 2012 916 am
All that lovely nostalgia last week. “They’re getting older” and notions of blissful family time spent together in these last weeks before the next stage of school, of childhood, of life.
Honestly, will I ever learn?
So here’s how the first week of summer has gone down so far: it’s ninety billion degrees outside. (Yes, ninety billion. Do you want to challenge me on this?) My son’s temper has been set ten degrees above the outdoor temperature, illustrated most often when his little sister does something offensive, like breathe. For her part, “Emmie” has alleviated her boredom by alternately following me from room to room for hours at a time and practicing her considerable people skills by messing with her brother’s head.
Two items have prevented chaos, tears and maternal spontaneous combustion this week. The first is a given: ice cream. When everyone needs to cool off, we head to the local ice cream barn. Easy peasy, and I know I can ride the wave of a little Death by Chocolate for hours.
Sadly, the effects of the ice-cream run on the children wear off by the time the car door closes. So we’ve needed to find another lifesaver, and I couldn’t be happier with what’s swooped in to do the heavy lifting: reading.
It began on a particularly hot afternoon. I opened all the windows in our small sun porch, turned on the ceiling fan, turned off the light and declared that we would observe half an hour of “reading time.” Mostly I just wanted the kids to sit still and cool down while I accomplished some research.
Emmie began–and finished–the first book in the Magic Tree House series, Dinosaurs Before Dark, by Mary Pope Osborne. I was skeptical that she could read that quickly with good comprehension, so I asked her to tell me what happened in the book. She did.
And I made decent progress in my research.
Oh, happy afternoon.
As I write this, the kids and I are ensconced in our local library, enjoying the blessing of air conditioning and unlimited books. I get to write this post. I can hear Jack giggling at Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything, by Steve Cotler, another Great Stone Face book. (He plans to read through the whole list.) Emmie is tucked into a bean bag chair reading Heather the Violet Fairy, by Daisy Meadows. These fairy books aren’t big on plot, but she loves them and finishing them gives her a sense of accomplishment. I think they’ve provided a segue into chapter books for her.
Perhaps the best part of this excursion is that no one is sweating, grumping or fighting.
For those of you who may be looking for book recommendations, here are a few other books that have recently captured my kids attention and imaginations:
Jack and I have been reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart at bedtime for a while now. We began with the first book during the school year, and he loved it. It’s a short series (short series; long books), and we’ve just begun the second book. He almost always asks me to keep going when we finish each evening’s reading.
After we got home from the library today, Jack finished Cheesie Mack and then read Pie, by Sarah Weeks. As in, he started it and finished it, pausing for a soccer tryout in ninety billion-degree heat in between. (What, you thought I’d forgotten about the ninety billion degrees?) Again, there was laughing out loud. He’ll be picking up the sequel to Cheesie Mack when we go to the library tomorrow for the kickoff of its summer reading program.
Emmie brought an anthology home from the library: Disney’s Once Upon a Princess. Yeah, I know. But guess what? She’s reading, and it makes her happy.
Finally: our whole family is excited to participate in our town’s summer reading program, which kicks off tomorrow afternoon with a picnic and offers incentives to young readers all summer long based on how many books they read. This year, for the first time, adults can also participate. In addition, there’s a new corollary program whereby if the town as a whole achieves a target number of reading hours, sponsors will donate funds to the local SPCA shelter–a cause my family wholeheartedly supports. All kinds of reading counts for this drive: books, articles, etc. If tweets count, I may get the town to its goal all by myself.
Separate topic: The blogosphere is buzzing this week about an article published by Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” I’m not going to write a separate post about it because I covered this topic in my April post, “If You’re Fighting the Mommy Wars, You’re Fighting in the Wrong War.” I do recommend reading Slaughter’s article, however, because she does an excellent job of outlining the cultural shifts that need to take place in order for women–and men–to be able to be successful in both their careers and their families, without being saddled with constant stress and guilt. I would only add here that much of what Slaughter states in her piece applies not just at the top echelons of government, but at lower levels as well and in other industries as well. And, as she mentions, she is talking primarily about women who are lucky enough to have choices to begin with. Many, many women and men have none.