Thursday, September 20, 2012

Living Like a Reader

Last week I dragged myself to a parent education event at Henry's school, despite the fact that it was rainy, I was tired, and I didn't think it was going to be very good. 

Boy was I glad I went! It was awesome. It was all about the importance of crafting a literate life as a family. For example, the presenter told a story about a family who read an old book together about a pony-related festival on the eastern shores of Virginia. Years later, they found a picture book related to the same topic, which led them to suspect that the festival might be real. After a little research, they realized that the festival was, in fact, real. They decided to take their first ever road trip as a family to visit the eastern shores of Virginia to attend the festival. 

I nearly cried. I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful image of a family learning and loving the world together. When I taught middle school reading and writing, our theme was "Oh, the Places You'll Go with Reading and Writing." It's true that reading and writing transform our lives and connect us to the far reaches of the Earth. And that's part of why I was a teacher and am now a parent--because being around children inspires me to live my very best life, out loud. I am thrilled about the chance to make birdhouses and hunt for bugs and make a weather station in the backyard and grow fruits and vegetables and go to aquariums and learn how to play new songs on the piano. I can't wait to get Henry his own Writer's Notebook and to travel to new places and sketch them. 

That's the kind of mother I want to be for my son; that's the kind of family I want us to be together--always learning, marveling, slowing down, observing, experimenting, laughing, and loving. 

Our new daily rhythm has been really good for us. It includes an hour or more at the park right behind our house. We walk through our backyard, out the gate, and into the park. Henry has been practicing how to wait for me to cross the street (on a "street" that rarely has cars). Then I let him lead the way as he hugs trees, pokes his fingers in dirt, climbs on tree stubs, and eventually finds his way to the playground to climb, slide, hang, swing, and play in dirt/rocks. This past week, I ran into a woman and her son (three months younger than Henry) that we met at the swimming pool this summer. We were at the park at the same time on three occasions this week. Henry and I have both been getting what we need by going to the park.

I will need to continue to be purposeful with my parenting as Henry grows and all of our needs change. I'm especially worried about being a purposeful parent once I am working full-time on an endeavor that means a great deal to me.

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prema said...

Dear Sara, Your goals to be a purposeful mom resonates so much with me that I had to write my comment (and learn to put up this post). Don't think I am doing a great job but am trying to learn to be one.

Sara E. Cotner said...

So glad you commented, Prema! Thank you for your kind words. This parenting thing is a big responsibility, and it's fun working hard to give Henry what he needs (while balancing my own needs, so that I am a happy, healthy mother for Henry). It's amazing watching his potential and personality unfold.

Anonymous said...

Misty of Chincoteague was one of my favorite books when I was little - and I had completely forgotten about it until now! This is going on the library list for sure. Thanks for stirring up a lovely memory.

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