Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life Imitates Reading

Over the past few months I have been noticing that Maya is imitating more and more.  She´s always been a good at imitations and her tone is pitch perfect.  I cannot tell you how many times Leo and I have been taken aback when she says something in exactly the same words, tone and pitch as we do.

It´s literally like living with someone who has a tape recorder for a mouth. 

It´s so funny to hear Maya say to me, you´re such a drama queen. In the same nasal-cum-Southwestern Pennsylvania tone of voice drah-mah queen.  

If I didn´t know any better I would swear I was talking to someone from dahn moon tahnship.  

And it is not just my Pittsburgh drawl that she can do but she has pitch perfect Dutch, and even pitch perfect English with a Dutch accent.  I can´t tell you how many times I have corrected Maya´s pronunciation of Peter Pan as Maya sometimes refers to it by the Dutch name Pieter (pronounced Pee-tare) Pan.  I tell her it´s not Pieter, but Peter.

That´s usually met with her saying Peter and then muttering something like mommy, stop it with that Peter.  

And now she loves a lot of the same music as our au pair Violah and she loves to dance and she is slowly learning how to play Rummikub since I play that a lot on the computer.  And of course, like her dad she is a whizz with the iPad.

She sees what we do and say and she models it.  Simple as that.

It dawned on me recently that imitation is in a lot of ways the way that you know your child is learning, particularly when you have a child with special needs and your child doesn´t have a lot of homework or has difficulty talking to you about what she did at school that day.

It is often the imitation which clues me into her learning, that her body of knowledge is expanding very slowly every day.

She is still very shy about reading though.  Although I know she can read more than she lets on and she is making progress in school, since January she has moved up one more level in her reading (ka-ching!)  She still will not practice reading at home and any time we try to very by-the-by try to steer her in that direction, she is on the first train outta there.

It´s perplexing because I want her to be able to read, not only because of my fantasy of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and other books with her but reading is a life changer.  If she doesn´t get good at it, there is virtually no chance that she will be able to be and live independently as an adult.

Reading is a deal breaker.

I had a thought.  Maya doesn´t really see us reading all that much.  The computer and news, sure, but we can just as easily be playing games, blogging or watching tv.   She doesn´t pay that much attention to what we are doing when technology is opened in front of our faces.

Perhaps if she saw us reading, she might follow suit.

I used to be a book junkie.  I devoured books, I was usually reading 2 or 3 books at a time, one for every mood.  But that largely fell by the wayside after I had Maya, at first being too distracted and later wanting what  me-time there was to involve sleep.  I´ve gone back to reading, although I still don´t read nearly as much as I used to, if I read one book a month, that is A LOT.  But most of the time when I read an actual book, I do it outside of Maya´s presence, when she is out with Leo or on my commute to and from work.

I hardly ever read in front of her.

Next week for my anniversary I asked Leo for a Kindle.  I´ve resisted tablets for reading books for a long time as I do love the feel and smell of books in my hand but to be honest, books are super expensive over here and Kindle is most of the time cheaper, plus we just have no place left to store lots of books and I cannot bear to throw even one book away.  I did try reading on the iPad, as of course Leo would prefer to have a second iPad, but the reading is just not as good as it is on a Kindle.  You get a horrible glare even on the grayest and gloomy of days and I´m not even going there.  And to be honest, while I think the iPad is great, I still prefer my trusty laptop to it.  Plus Kindle has the most titles of any e-reader out there.

So, armed with my Kindle, I will start modeling reading for Maya and forgo tv and movie time on weekends in favor of curling up on my favorite chair in the living room and reading.

I have the whole month of August off of work, we are headed for two glorious weeks to the southern part of France, where there is nothing but sun, wine, fois gras, a pool, beautiful gardens and day upon day of solitude and night skies aglow with stars and the backlight of my Kindle.

Let the summer of reading begin!

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