I’ve waited for Jessica to fall in-love with reading. We’ve fostered the art of books from day one, constantly reading to her, with her. Championing her on the journey to self-reading. Buying comic books, or comic-styled books, in hopes that they’d hold her attention with the smaller bubble of print. They did … for a day.
Jessica likes results, as it turns out. She loves to learn, but in a group. She loves to engage and entertain and experience the world around her. She doesn’t want to read about it. She wants to do it.
Spring Break was a blast and we stamped our little passports to our hearts content, until one day nothing was content any more. I couldn’t handle the constant need for entertainment, the maid service I had become. I didn’t want to be my kids’ chauffeur or open-ended bank account of fun. (Even though, let’s be honest, it’s fun for me too. And just plain easier most of the time.)
We had play dates and I had amazing conversations with friends. The week was not a waste, none of it boring. All of it worth the sweat and tears that came with a wild, no-routine, off-kilter, let’s-do-anything! week. In between the morning’s out, afternoons adventure’s, or special camp-outs in the basement … we stayed home. In our pj’s, screens banned from our eyes, books open.
Jessica picked up a cook book.
And she started reading. And, then, together … we started baking.
I was too hands-on at first, not wanting a cloud of flour to explode – I hovered too closely at times. But she would struggle against my pull of restrain – she would huff and puff or just nudge her way around and soon she was telling ME what she needed.
Yeast, where do you keep that?
It says 4 eggs! (woah!)
I don’t like raisins, let’s do chocolate instead.
She made Chelsea Buns, the next day she made Sesame Seed Buns and egg salad and deviled eggs.
And we gathered around our table, plates full of the homemade food Jessica made for us. A sandwich bar with homemade bread, egg salad, all the fixings (and pickles!) and we said Thank You. To her. We thanked her for the work she did, for feeding us. We complimented her skills, it was delicious and she got shy. Beautifully aware of loving others, she didn’t want us to recognize it.
It was sublime.
Today, first day back at school, I packed her lunch full of the food’s she prepared and she came home, full.
Then we baked some more. Cookies, her first sour-dough starter, brown-sugar meringue.
And instead of falling in love with reading a book, she’s falling in love with practicing one. Or two, or however many she can find. And tonight before bed she asked if she could write one, too? Like, maybe a cookbook? With me?
She threw out a few name ideas and I loved them – she rhymed every one. Then I said “How about ‘After-school Bakery?'” and she giggled, walked over, and told me she was going to hug me now.
And all of a sudden I don’t care if she ever likes to read. Books would have never been there to squeeze her back ….
but I always will.