Look! Say!: Dr. Chall and Dr. Seuss Win the Day!! (Archive)

(this was originally posted on Jan 5, 2008)

Or as I like to call them, Thing 1 and Thing 2. hee hee hee

See, I had a very special private and glorious moment given to me the other day. Granted I DID think to pay attention…and I have consciously sculpted my whole fathering world around engendering events like the one I’m about to relate, but STILL! (Not to mention that both my ex and myself were reading novels by age 9, and that she has been seamlessly and constantly surrounding the kids with letters and we’ve read to them every night since birth…but STILL!)

So my daughter, let’s call her “Silly”, is 4 and a half. The other day I was doing some dishes, her little brother (2 years and three months, now) was playing in the street with broken glass or something, and Sally was directly behind me, leaning-bending-goofing on the arm and back of my futon couch. I heard her mumble something and asked what she said, thinking she was speaking to me.

She said, “Oh, nothing, Dad. I’m just talking to my self.” Ok, cute enough and all that. But I still turned the faucet down a little to lessen the noise of the water and cocked my head a little to foster a little better hearing of just what she was “mumbling”.

“ahhhyyyy llluv ….” a bit of a pause, “toooo reee-ahhd.” Then she restated the entire sentence she had in fact just decoded: “I love to reee-uh-dd.”

I guess I’ve been Dadding long enough that an auto-response was already taking hold of my posture (leaning forward, out of the “I want to listen to her”-zone), facial expression (starting to smile that amused smile of the parent when hearing nonsense baby-babble) and feeling (happy resignation that I had not overheard something that might rip my heart out — a feeling fueled entirely by knowing that separation and divorce is hard on kids) when that whole process was halted BOOM! stop-me-in-my-tracks suddenly as I reacted to what I’d actually just heard.

Before the next instant, I need to let the gentle reader know that I joined this Dr. Seuss book club recently and one of their little “Thanks for giving us your money” dealios was this mini-book-bag, (just the size of Dr. Seuss books, dammit I KNOW there must be a connection! ;-) featuring a typically bemused Cat in the Hat with a speech-bubble proclaiming, “I Love to Read!” Yeah, it’s a little cheesy. Yeah, it does veer a leeeetle bit close to the world of flash-cards and too-many-classes that I utterly abhor in contemporary parenting in America…but it’s essentially cute. You know, for kids.

So standing there at my dishes, frozen, remembering the bag, I look around for it. Sure enough, of course, it’s hanging on a door handle and is precisely what Sally was looking at. (She was looking at it quite intently and did not give any indication that she’d seen me look at her.)

I watched this all feeling bizarrely detached — perhaps a lingering professional detachment from having taught reading to kids in 2004. I’d just had a front-row seat for a “Moment” that I assumed out of hand would occur elsewhere, like at school: I’d just heard my kid learn to read. Realizing this I immediately asked her again, “What did you say, honey?”

My head was still slightly turned, my eyes cast down to the right corner to see her, but my hands carried on busily with the dishes; I had tried not to sound overly interested.

She rocked gently the way little kids do, bobbing her head a little while staring dead-set on the bag’s words, and looked very much like she was now truly listening to her internal monologue that was a confirmation that she had indeed decoded the letters. But she told me, “Oh, nothing. I told you, I’m just talking to myself.”

I really wanted to play dumb and let her keep this moment semi-private, as she partially appeared to want. But I couldn’t help myself and the part of me built on “love, praise, encourage, celebrate-triumphs in kids” won and I exuberantly leaned down and beamed at her something like, “Well, baby, I know what you just did! You can READ, Silly! You just READ that bag, honey!” I kissed her head her cheek her head again and declared a couple times how awesome it was, how awesome she was. I think I might have tried to join her game at that point and said something like, “But I won’t tell anyone, you don’t have to worry.”

So don’t any of you, like, go and tell her I told you, ‘k? Or I’ll have to let Thing 1 and Thing 2 loose to do a thing or two to YOU!

Originally Posted by KC at 12:15 AM Saturday, January 5, 2008

Labels: cat in the hat, dr. seuss, early reading, fatherhood, jeanne chall, literacy, parenting, phonemes, phonics, reading development, stages of reading development, stimulating environment


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One response to “Look! Say!: Dr. Chall and Dr. Seuss Win the Day!! (Archive)

  1. Pingback: Three doctors…or: How I learned to stop worrying and love making dopey halloween decorations | Fatherhood Poetic

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