Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Parenting and Summer Reading
So, I've got two kids in high school and one to go. Oliver will be entering the seventh grade after Labor Day, and he's the one who despises school, mainly because he has some learning disabilities and up until very recently, we didn't really have a handle on those. Conversations this summer around summer reading requirements have generally been the type where if you suggested that someone should perhaps start reading their required book and if you happened to be lighting a candle at the same time to mask the smell of another child's diaper, the whole house would have gone up in flames.
Last night I made a gentle suggestion that perhaps it was time for someone to start reading their required book (and to be fair, the first was actually finally finished three weeks ago!). The suggestion hung there in the dry and combustible air. Mom, I really hate basketball, and it's a book about basketball, he said fairly rationally from his perch on a stool in the kitchen. I confidently spooned beans into a bowl for Sophie's dinner. I love basketball, actually, (because I went to the world's greatest basketball university which is another topic altogether) which is saying a lot given that I am utterly not into sports, completely nonathletic and verge on the irrational in my hatred of football. Well, it's not really about the sport, I said, it's about a boy who plays basketball, but it's really more about him. Someone frowned and squirmed on his chair. I scattered chicken on top of the beans and sprinkled cheese on top of that. Hey, I've got an idea, I said, as I put the bean concoction in the microwave. If you finish this book without grumping around and resisting it, I'll buy us two tickets to a Lakers or Clippers game. Someone stopped squirming and looked interested. How about the Dodgers instead? he asked.
Reader, if you're a young parent, don't let anyone tell you that bribes shouldn't be used in parenting. Consider yourself skilled if you get your obstreperous, extremely volatile offspring to agree to read about basketball (your favorite sport) in return for you having to sit through baseball (a sport that bores you to tears). Consider yourself a good enough mother.
Plus, your house doesn't go up in flames.