As I wrote in the last blog, summer vacation has started in the school and so at least one of us is having free time. This weekend we spent relaxing a lot, along with her normal swimming lessons and weekly shopping, 'J' also got a new pair of shoes. In order to buy one, with utmost patience 'J' walked in three shoe stores, tried almost 15 pairs of shoes, till she could find the one she likes the best, colour and design wise, I liked it too as it is providing good support to her feet. Of course pocket wise a bit compromise was needed (colour, design, fitting and quality altogether need little extra price). I explained 'J' the fact and told her that no more buying for her for this weekend and she agreed (phew!). I always feel that we are the generation sandwiched between strong parents and strong kids.
On the way home
I asked her five things she loves to buy and with no pause she uttered the list:
3) Dresses for her teddys and dolls
5) Art and craft material.
I tried to remind her about books, she replied "That anyway you buy for me." Period.
Next question was about five things she loves to do, again her answer was ready;
1) Watching computer (Our TV and satellite connection does not function for a long time, so after some days of uffs and ahas she has found a compromise in watching DVDs, some cartoons from you tube and some videos from cbeebies)
2) Playing with her best friend or any playing
5) Buying stuff/shopping
Of course I was little disappointed for not finding reading story books in her list, on asking she said it is not among first five. And here I am taking her at least once a week to the library from the time she was 3 and half year old, reading story books to her most of the nights before going to sleep. Anyway I then consoled myself at least painting is on the list and brushes are close to pens. And I am not going to stop our visit to library just because reading is still not in her top five!
While going to sleep she said two other things;
One was "Mum you are always busy doing things for us, why don't you teach me how to cook, so you can then finish your work and I can cook the dinner." It is just one of the several hundreds of sentences she speaks everyday, but it made me feel good! A mother's job is the hardest one but little acknowledgement like this from their little ones makes it also the sweetest ones.
One another thing she said has triggered my thinking; that she likes watching (TV or computer) as she can get to know many facts and information from them and she don't need to find them through reading several pages for a long time. She added that in TV or computer she can see things doing action and that helps her to remember them. Like a video about Egypt during her school project helped her more than even the charts and picture books.
The same attitude I have observed in my younger brother and sister who don't have the patience or energy to sit (or lying on the bed) and read, they prefer watching and gobbling things from the screen. They had TV available at home (for me I had only radio for many years of my childhood) from their toddler times and then the presence of screen just increased in their lives in the form of a computer or mobile phone.
Screen is omnipresent in our lives and no way to ignore it. You can ration watching time in your child's life but as soon as they will become independent they will get hooked to them. I know it from my own self, I like watching TV as well, but I like reading too as this was a part of the daily routine in my childhood. Therefore my logic was to make reading books a habit for 'J' so that she miss it if she cannot do it for a long time. But now seeing the growth of digital technology may be in future the books will all get digitalised and reading from the screen will become a norm with kindle, ipad and other gadgets. Reading books might be replaced by reading on screen. The libraries will become completely online and their will be no ritual of borrowing and returning books there. Environment friendly side of me supports digital way of reading with no doubt.
But as a mother, however impractical it may feel, I will still continue on my efforts to inoculate the habit of reading and writing in my child from and on the papers. Try to teach my child feel and smell of papers of different kinds of books and notebooks.
But I also know that like mothers of all the generations I can only try and they like all other generations will continue to imbibe into the new patterns of civilisation.