June 04, 2013

Let Him Dream

We signed up for our local summer reading program yesterday. The library was a melee of kids, books, herds of eager desire surrounding the iPads (our library has a few of these for patrons to use), and understanding smiles from adults.

Our family is comprised of readers. When I was expecting our first child, I worried what I would do if he or she didn't like to read. I shared my fear tentatively with a co-worker, and he reassured me with a smile that our kids would tend to be interested in what they saw their parents doing. Were time travel in my power, Nick, I'd come back and agree with you! Particularly since that child's first word was 'book'.

One child is in the grade school reading program, one in the preschool program, and mom in the adult reading program. Three methods of record-keeping and three systems of getting 'prizes' for reading. I don't know how non-administrative moms do this, frankly. It could drive ME nuts. The grand prizes in the grade school program are an American Girl Doll (for the girls) and a Star Wars Lego set (for the boys).

A fire has been ignited in my son's soul.

Because he, too, is an ordered soul, he has taken a timer to the couch in the living room and times how long he reads his various books to himself. He logged 3 hours, 15 minutes and 14 seconds yesterday, went to bed, and went back at it at 6:30 this morning. He stops after every 15 minute chunk of time and colors in another space on his reading log sheet. He told me last night that he wants to turn in 38 sheets by the end of the reading program, which would represent 190 hours of reading.

I adore him for attacking reading so thoroughly, but my maternal instinct is tingling. I don't think he's ever been part of a drawing before. We explained that each completed sheet means he can put a slip with his name in for the drawing, but that only ONE person out of all those names will win the set. Despite the explanations, I still think there might be tears if the one name isn't his. -His odds will certainly be higher if his name is in the drawing 38 times; I just wonder if I should be doing more to press the understanding of probability in this.

Then I remember my baby brother.

My senior year of high school as I pondered colleges and majors, I asked my 6th grade brother what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A professional football player," he replied.
"No, Dan, seriously; what do you want to be?"
"A professional football player."
"Dan, you know the odds against that happening, of having the skill and ability to succeed at even a college level, let alone a professional level! There really isn't a chance of you playing professional football."

I've never forgotten his response: "I'm a sixth-grader, Suze. Let me dream."

So often I seek to protect my kids from the
unkind bumps and bruises of life. If I'm not careful, I will also strip them of chances to soar, to hope, to dream, just because I don't want them to risk falling. Does my boy look statistically likely to win a Lego set for reading? No. Will life continue if he doesn't win it? Yes. Will he have a good summer of excitement and anticipation for reading, even if he doesn't win the set? I think so, yes.

I need to let him dream.

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