Thursday, March 10, 2011


the chicks are here.  four of them.  if i have seen you in the last 48 hours i have told you this in person.  no doubt, you were polite.  maybe excited if you have had good chicken experiences.  they are peeping right now in an organic apple box duplex we put together with aid of a box cutter and packing tape.  i can hear two other noises besides the peeping: scratch and peck.

this is what chicks do.  why? because this is what chickens do.  chicks are little chickens but already completely aware of what they are supposed to do.  they don't even have role models- and yet, they are scratching at the pine shavings looking for bugs they have never, ever seen before.

this is called instinct.

human babies have this too.  there's the rooting instinct- the one that screams "suck on it!" anytime something soft comes near they fuzzy heads.  they also have the "grab the fur" instinct that tells them to cling on to mama even if mama has sluffed off fur many, many years back.  i think our children have many more instincts.  i think they actually know what they need to learn and when they need to learn it. case in point: reading.

i love to read.  i remember wanting to read so badly and when i finally got it i felt like i had unlocked a magical door to worlds i knew existed, but up until that point had no real proof.  yes, toys came alive.  yes, girls survived on islands.  yes, being smart was a good thing.  yes, yes, yes.

my oldest son- who is like a sponge soaking up all information available- is totally luke warm about learning to read.  he spends hours with his nose in books- maybe reading some words- if he knows them.  and skipping the ones he doesn't.  decoding does not interest him.  life interests him.

this bothers me a little.  it sends off my special-education-red-flag-alert which then triggers my bad mama switch and the spiral begins.  i start to see elrs and checklists.  i berate myself about being too this and not enough that.  i hear my parents saying things like "can't he read YET?"  true confession- i have sat him down and forced him to read- making him miserable- just so i could feel better about my mom-ness.  that's like double bad mama.

no, he is not in school. we home school our boys with an approach that is something like "life will teach you want you need to know."  a lesson ponyboy taught me my first day working at the lummi tribal school years ago.

thirteen year olds can be wise- listen to them.

so, this morning seren wanders in with a book i picked up for twelve cents at a thrift store.  it's a "phonic comic" book and he is on the last page laughing.  i say, hopeful, "wow- you read that whole book already?!"

"no.  i just skipped ahead when i came to a word i didn't know."


"don't you want to know what is happening in the story?  you can read the words- it just takes a bit."



"do you want to learn to read better?"

he perches on the couch next to me, slides the book onto the shelf and says, "i've got until i'm 18 years old to learn to read.  right now i just want to be a kid."

scratch.  peck.  peep.


  1. Yes, as a mother of two boys, and having heard my very dear mother say "he should be reading by now," I totally relate to this. I can tell you, reading TO my boys has turned them into readers. They love books, and they learned to read when they were ready. I personally think Steiner had something on the teeth: I heard that certain things are more likely to happen when certain teeth come in: I think the two front top (adult) teeth mean that the brain is getting ready to read. So - 7 or 8 is when my boys finally got it. And now, Airy, who is 11, reads adult books. No worries, NancyLee - they will read. You are so right on - love your analogy - scratch.peck.peep.....

  2. oops. some funny run-on sentences there. And my son is AiryN with an N.