I’m normally a very Do-It-Yourself oriented person. Before I consider paying somebody else for a service, I make every effort to do it myself. I have never needed surgery, but if I ever do, I will read all about it on the Internet to see if it is an operation I can knock out over the bathroom sink before I fork over a dollar to a “trained” surgeon.
As I pay a preschool big wads of money, in hopes that they can teach my son to read, or at least get him close, I wonder where my awesome self-reliance went. It is deflating to my rugged individualist ego to throw in the towel on this issue; nonetheless, the towel is wadded into a ball and my arm is cocked into pitching position.
I should be able to teach my own flesh and blood to read. To begin with, I can read myself, which is half the battle. I should be able to find the time, patience, and discipline to get him reading. It turns out, those things comprise the much larger half of the battle.
There are a surprising number of halves to this battle, most of them unconsidered during those callow days when I entertained glorious dreams of educating some future, theoretical child at my knee. Discovering all these extraneous halves has led me to the disappointing conclusion that I probably should not be the boy’s mathematics tutor either.
A considerable half of the battle is the one wherein the boy considers it a waste of his time to learn to do something that his parents can easily do for him. We have two experienced readers in the family, leaving us with a spare, in case the one reading the bedtime story conks out. Surely, that is enough for any household. A child who learns to do things for himself opens himself up to the burden of unwanted responsibilities. Where does it end? Soon, they’ll be troubling him to tie his own shoes.
It may be an obvious half of the battle that the boy would rather play than work on academics. Learning is work, and so is teaching, which is perhaps part of the reason why we commonly pay people to do it. After the 100th time Daddy implores his distracted pupil to “sound it out,” it dawns upon him that he has already gone through the learning-to-read process once in his life. It was a slog then, and it’s a slog now. There’s no good reason to go through this drudgery twice in one lifetime. As the boy has pointed out, everybody could be using this time to play.
This battle has at least 14 too many halves for Daddy. Mommy is much better at sticking to it, as well as getting the boy to stick to it. Mommy has laid a good foundation, but even Mommy’s diligence has its limits. It may be worth the money to have someone, whose credentials go beyond the mere ability to read, take a hand in the process. If nothing else, it is sure to take some of the guilt out of play time.