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Three Little Words

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in …

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway.

—Stephen King

A friend at church handed me Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. I started it last night and only put it down when my eyes and brain rebelled against being awake any longer.

The story would be shocking and unbelievable, except it so closely mirrors my own daughter’s experience (and, by extension, my own).

Back in a bit…gone readin’.

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I Want You!

***UPDATE: I had so much fun with this! Please keep adding links to your favorite posts, and I’ll keep reading. 🙂 

I want you!

Actually, I want your writing.

Very excited about several hours set aside to do nothing but READ. (Whaaaaaaaaaaat?)

Yep, this weekend, the kids will have some time to themselves and I get a break in a silent, silent, silent  room with nothing but The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and YOUR BLOGS.

Chocolate truffles for my brain. The kind  my friend used to bring me from Belgium. Yum.

So.

Here’s your chance to make my weekend AWESOME. In the comments below, please insert a link to your favorite recent (or not so recent) post. Preferably from your own blog, but you can post someone else’s, too.

Thanks for being a part of my weekend. My life, for that matter.

P.S. If you order the The Writer’s Journey (or anything else on Amazon), using http://smile.amazon.com/ allows you to choose a charity. Amazon will donate to your charity with every purchase. If you don’t have one in mind, Compassion International is pretty phenomenal. I’ve seen the work personally and they’re financially transparent.

***

Photo courtesy alcantaraacupuncture.com

Under creative commons by Anna Gutermuth.

Adoption = Flashback

Pre-Note: Something I learned from a counselor this week: if a child experiences trauma, it typically takes twice as long for the child to recover. If a child was abused for three years, expect six years of recovery; five years of abuse equals ten years necessary to heal. As she explained this, she said, “so, you can expect improvement, but total recovery is unlikely until your daughter is about age…huh. Well, right when she hits adolescence. Good luck with that.”

***

Our little guy gets sick with a horrible, croupy-barky, goose-honky cough every fall and spring.

This year, I thought we’d escaped the scourge, but it turns out things just happened later. Last year, he started with a minor cough in the morning, and by the time I managed to get a work-in appointment with his pediatrician in the afternoon, he could barely breathe. After oral steroids and starting a third nebulizer treatment to open airways, the doctor said, “if this doesn’t work, we’re sending you to the ER.” Not the words I wanted to hear. Thankfully, he was able to breathe by the end of the treatment and they sent us home to several weeks of breathing treatments and a follow-up to check on asthma.

This year, I didn’t wait; he started sounding like a waterfowl around 8 am. The pediatrician didn’t have a work-in until late afternoon, so we went to an urgent-care facility. The doctor was matter-of-fact. “Son, you are much too old to have croup. How did you manage this?” My boy just shook his head, coughing.

She gave him an oral steroid and a saline-only nebulizer treatment, explaining that he’s not asthmatic; the noise isn’t bronchial–it’s from a swollen trachea. I was happy he wouldn’t have the albuterol jitters. He was happy to have a doctor’s note to stay home. Two days into the steroids, his cough simmered down. He was sad to go back to school; I was actually a little sad to send him.

I picked up the kids from school and noticed that he seemed a bit listless. He rested his head on the table during homework and dinner, then asked if he could go to bed around 7:30. I noticed his light was on and assumed he was reading a scientific journal (okay, actually thought it would be “Captain Underpants”). Walking into his room, I focused on stepping over Lego pieces and Kinex shrapnel strewn across his floor (“at least make a path from the bed to the door, dude,”). I didn’t look at him right away, as I scraped a walkway in the toys with the side of my foot. “You reading?” No answer. I glanced up to see tears streaming down his face. “What’s wrong, buddy? Are you feeling sick again?” I reached for his forehead. Clammy and cool. He looked pitiful, terrified and desperate.

“I just remembered it all, Mama. I remember the day they separated me from my other family.”

I barely made it to the bed in time; he dove into my lap, wailing. His sister came flying down the hall. “Is he okay? Is he hurt? Is he sick again?” Hubby was working late, and I knew I couldn’t handle both of them melting down at the same time, so I fibbed a little. Well, fibbed a lot. “He’s fine. Fine. He just needs a minute. Go ahead back to your room and play; I’ll be there in a bit.” I heard her slowly move back down the hall, then begin talking to her stuffed animals. Thank goodness.

He sobbed for almost an hour, angry and devastated. This was the first time he’d ever mentioned memories of the day they were removed; he was not even three. “Why did they take us? What made social services do it? How could they do this to me? I want to go baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!” I had no answers, so I just held him and tried to think of all the answers I learned in class. Suddenly, the “unused” counseling degree became abundantly more relevant.  “It must really hurt your feelings. I know this is hard for you. Can you tell me more about what you’re feeling?”

Spent, exhausted, he finally calmed down. He lay back on his pillows, almost lethargic, face turned toward the wall.

“Is there anything I can do to help make this better?” I asked. He closed his eyes and shook his head, the movement almost imperceptible. I held his little hand, hoping he’d squeeze it the way he usually does, but…nothing. He was so deflated, it scared me. I looked around the room, hoping for something to distract him, break him out of his malaise. “Hey, look. Pumpkin is checking on you.” His funny little hamster was indeed plastered against the side of the cage, eyeing him. My boy rolled over, away from the hamster and me.

I was getting desperate. “Would you like me to read you a book?”

He rolled back toward me. “About adoption?” I couldn’t read his tone. Did he want a book about adoption, or was he just expecting me to try to use it as a bandage? I stalled, flipping through his bookshelf. I found one we hadn’t read yet. “How about this one, about a mama and her son? It’s not about adoption, though.” He rolled closer. “Okay.”

The book begins as a mother holds her newborn son. “I wish I could have been there the day you were born,” I said, trying to forestall another hurricane of bio-mom memories. “Me too,” he answered, sitting up. Each page showed the son growing up and the mother growing older, “but as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,” the mother tells the son.

The book actually gets a little weird, showing the mother crawling across the bedroom floor to hold her teenage son in his sleep. The book mentions that her son bought a house nearby. Later, she drives across town with a ladder, climbing through her grown son’s window to rock him in her lap while he slumbers, unaware. Yep, creepy.

Finally, the mother is old, and asks her son to visit. She is too old and frail to hold him, so he rocks her. By this time, my little guy was almost in my lap again. He looked up at me, interested. “When you’re old, will you look like that?” Laughing, I said, “I sure hope I’m prettier, because that lady, well…” “She’s kinda ugly,” he finished my thought, smiling at me. The next page showed the young man walking up the stairs of his own home, then singing to his own baby. I looked down at him. “Someday you’ll probably have a baby, and I’ll be very proud of you. No matter how old you get, you’ll always be my baby boy.”

He threw his arms around my neck and then we both had tears running down our cheeks.

“I love you so much.” “Me, too.”

“I know you are sad about the people you lost, but I’m so glad you’re part of my family.” “Me, too.”

After a few minutes, he sat back. “Mama?” He looked at my face and wiped my cheeks with his little hands. “Yes?” He thought for a moment. “Let’s never read that book again, okay?” I laughed. “No problem. Anyway, the mama crawling across the room sort of creeped me out.” He started laughing. “Yeah, me too.” I started to stand up, but he grabbed my hand, squeezing tight. “Mama, when I grow up, I’m going to buy a house next door to you, okay?”

Sounds perfect to me.

Adoption = Reading

This is a reply I posted to an adoptive parent on Reddit whose child is having reading struggles. I realized it might be helpful to some of my WP readers. I apologize…I didn’t make it pretty (spare time is all going to NaNoWriMo this month). 

Our guy was reading at a pre-k level going into 2nd and at a K level at end of 2nd. Our girl was reading around 1st grade level in 2nd.

Here’s the nutshell of what worked for us: Everyone says to let your kids see you read, but I just don’t have time to sit down. Instead, I talk all the time about reading. “Books are awesome; you can find anything you want to know…” “Do you know what I read the other day?” They don’t see me reading, generally, but they know I do it. They also know that when I have my earbuds in, I’m listening to ‘one of Mama’s stories.'” Sometimes I download books (Bunnicula is a favorite, even for the adults) and we listen in the car.

Over the summer, we checked out books at the library. I let them pick whatever they wanted, five books each per week. She mostly got pink story books; he chose information (SHARKS!) books. They read out loud to me in the car anytime we went anywhere, at least one book per day–in the case of the info books, he had to read for 15 minutes, since some of those are loooooooong. They didn’t like it at first and said they were carsick, etc. (to which I said, “prove it and barf” and they said never mind…thank goodness…). After a while, they got used to it.

Our rules: When they come to a word they don’t know, they need to try it first, then they can spell it to me (since I’m driving). I then help them break up the word by 2-3-or 4-letter chunks. They still have to figure it out, but I help with weird words (“that ‘c’ says ‘ess'” or “that ‘K’ is silent”).

They gave me a LOT of pushback, crying, complaining, etc. for the first month. Finally it subsided, and now they (mostly) just do it. It took 8 months, I won’t lie…it’s not a quick process.

I was concerned that he would have trouble with the info books because the words were bigger (true) but because he picked topics HE cared about, there was motivation.

Getting them to read is all about letting them read what interests them, and reading out loud (in my opinion) is key. Otherwise, you don’t really know that a) they’re actually reading and b) they’re reading correctly. Captain Underpants is not my idea of a great role model, but our guy loves the books, so I allow them. (Of course, there’s a common sense piece, here…I probably should not have been allowed to read Flowers in the Attic when I was ten, but no one really regulated my reading.)

Consider getting audiobooks (along with the written books) and having him listen/read. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t perk up at hearing, “let me tell you a story. Long ago and far away…” Read to the whole family at dinner. I understand that mine are younger, but they still rolled their eyes when I pulled out my ancient copy of Little House on the Prairie. Three months in (I read maybe three pages on sporadic days), they say, “can you read tonight?”

After much struggle and continued practice, our guy returned to school this fall reading AT THIRD GRADE LEVEL. I have never been prouder, truly. (I’m not sure about our girl’s level because they didn’t give her the same test, but she definitely improved also).

I hope some of this works for you. I imagine it’s even harder when they’re older. I can tell you though, the “find their interest” thing works. Good luck!!!

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