I recently had the opportunity to read a book. As a busy, working mom of six, it was a rare occasion. We were at the cottage for a week and my kid had been nagging me to read her favourite novel, The Hunger Games. Surprisingly, I got really into it and had a hard time putting it down.
It’s difficult to be negative about reading. It is valuable to read to and with our children, and it is important that they see us read. I was raised by an avid reader. My dad read constantly and as soon as one book was done, he was on to the next. It was amazing in so many ways – he had so much knowledge to share and provided us with a home filled with beautiful books. We talked about books and Dad would spontaneously quote from novels, plays and poems whenever he had the chance. He had a love of words. Several of us kids went on to study literature at university.
While I was stuck into that book at the cottage, my kids would buzz around asking for snacks or wanting my attention. I found myself shooing them away saying “Let me just finish this chapter”, hoping they’d be distracted long enough so I could start the next one.
It reminded me of being a child and watching my dad read his books. There were many times he was reading when he really should have been engaging with us. Indeed, there were times it seemed his books were more important. Family game night often meant Mom playing with us, while Dad sat in the other room reading. There were times I thought this was selfish and maybe I was even a little jealous of his books.
Because reading is smart and noble, I think it’s a hobby that is not only forgiven, but praised. If my dad had been on his iPad or iPhone all that time, it would have been unacceptable. There are many times my kids have to occupy themselves because I’m working on my laptop. There are other times I’m distracted by other things. Do I think kids need undivided attention? Absolutely not. It’s good for kids to see parents work and relax. We want them to have the ability to entertain themselves. But it just got me wondering why certain activities are more forgivable than others. The effect is the same.
I kind of didn’t like who I became when I was so wrapped up in my book at the cottage. I think for the next while, I’ll stick mostly to reading with my kids because I get the sneaking suspicion that the day will soon come when I can do all the reading I want and I’ll wish I was being interrupted for a snack.