Monday, March 26, 2012

THE GOLD CHAIR

Zoey really wants to read in The Gold Chair. Or maybe it should be all uppercase like this: THE GOLD CHAIR. Because apparently THE GOLD CHAIR is THE SHIT in kindergarten, except of course that is potty talk and we don't use that kind of language BUT HOLY FUCK, SHE REALLY WANTS TO READ IN THE GOLD CHAIR.

Truth be told, I would like her to read in THE GOLD CHAIR, too. And yes, I am finding all this willy nilly uppercase annoying, too, but you see, THE GOLD CHAIR is tufted, mustard-gold, stained, but most important of all, it is where you get to sit and read a book to the entire kindergarten class when you are ready.

And Zoey is not ready.

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind...

This is the book Zoey has chosen, so every night we practice. T-hh-ee, she says. What sound does 'th' make, I say. Ch, she says. No, I say. Look at the letters. T-atch-ee, she says. His? No, I say, THE, the the cackling and popping in my throat like this:
The. So we've got the. And then we get to night. She starts to sound it out, enn, iih, guh hhu-? Night, I say, it's night, fast and dark, I don't know how or why but it's night, damnit. ThenightMaxworehiswolfsuitandmademischiefofonekind turn page andanother turn page hismothercalledhim"WILDTHING!"andMaxsaid"I'LLEATYOUUP!"sohewassenttobedwithouteatinganything.. Every page like this, plodding through words feeling tight in the chest and eyes quick, peering through the wrong end of our binoculars at THE GOLD CHAIR so that it looks as if it's even farther away.

Because I suck at teaching my daughter how to read. Night! I say, mischief! Rumpus! And then when she pauses too long, concentrate! A tiger mom who lost her stripes because I honestly don't understand how anyone learns to read when ghoti spells fish. Stay with me here: gh, pronounced /f/ as in tough /tʌf/; o, pronounced /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and ti, pronounced /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈne͡ɪʃən/. Letters, words, sentences, all of it a mystery I don't care much to unravel, the beauty of it almost in its ineffability, itself an illogical thing to say.

When Zoey was a baby she hated the sand. Would curl up her feet like a newt if we so much as tried to sit her down at the beach, and Bryan was in a way almost hurt by this. So what? I said, the sand is kind of dirty if you think about it, but he is a water-man, a surfer and sailor with salt in his veins and sand in his cracks, and now I get it.

I love words. a, e, i, o, u, and all the time y. I want Zoey to love to read, and I know that she won't with me yelling at her night! So I told her I was sorry, that we were both learning here because I have never taught anyone how to read, the words pawing angrily at my teeth. LET THE WILD RUMPUS START! I am going to have to find a way to swallow the words, those wild things. Anyone know why night spells night? Because I don't, and as much as I'd like this post to end with a triumphant seat in THE GOLD CHAIR, it's not. Not yet anyway. It ends with the same thing tomorrow night. Night! Night.

15 comments:

anita said...

hang in there.
one day she will just get it. keep reading with her, the magic will happen.
xo

Mornings with Milo said...

I loved this post. I grew up in an old beach house with a grandmother who had taught children Shakespeare back in the forties. She loves words. She loved to read us to sleep with beautiful words and phrases and sounds. I'd close my eyes and listen to the words roll off her tongue like gentle waves onto the shore. That's how I learned to read...eventually that is! My Milo is almost 2 and although he adores the sand and salt and sun like my surfer husband, I have no idea if all the reading I do with him will translate to a love for words...but Zoey. Zoey will sit on the gold throne and proudly pronounce and mispronounce her way through her book. Afterall, she did pick "Where the Things Are." And learning to read is wild and adventurous and wonderful and tricky.

A Perfect Gray said...

I adore your writing. You've made my day. donna

Jules said...

That's a hard book for an early reader. I think the Biscuit books would be more her speed. Also, does her school have her learning sight words? For Mikey, there were some words (the, who, where, etc.) he had to know by sight, probably because sounding them out would be a recipe for disaster. English is weird.

Buff said...

Oh my, A little tear came to my eye remembering those nights. I can almost feel the same blood boiling frustration from nights spent trying to teach my first one to read. Not fun! and yet I miss it now.

Petunia Face said...

I've been trying to get Zoey to pick an easier book but everything I suggest is too "babyish." I was thinking of taking her to the bookstore or library to pick out something special--I'll look at the Biscuit books (thanks Jules!).

Thank you all for the comments. So far this reading thing is harder than potty training, though not nearly as stinky.

Hello Lovely said...

Oh my, I hear you sister! I teach grade two and their little faces are just oh so confused when you try to explain the gh sounds life f and so on....VERY hard to keep your cool! Sometimes I just want to scream! LOL! I totally understand because none of the kids in my class want to read easier books that are actually AT their level...BABYISH! Make sure you give her the choice of books that are at HER level. Pull a fast one on her, she'll think SHE is choosing, but you'll end up winning too because she will be able to actually read it! Send a secret note to her teacher to suggest books in her actual reading level. Good luck!!!
xoxo, Sarah

http://hellolovelydecor.blogspot.ca/

Pat T said...

The book is too hard for a beginner reader, Biscuit is good as are similar books with repetitive words. Google pre-primer (sight) words - these are typically words that don't "follow the rules" and can't be sounded out like others. But don't push it, readers emerge when they're ready to emerge, reading to Zoey is just as important or more important, (hard to swallow when she really wants to read in the gold chair). The goal is a child who loves to read, doesn't matter when she starts :).

Lyla said...

Oh but you ARE a good teacher, just by doing it with her. I had the same reaction with my daughter and it tore me up every night. I would get so frustrated and then she would get frustrated. But along the way she picked it up and now we read together every night. Side by side, she's in her book and I'm in mine. And We still choose a book that I read to her nightly...right now we're into Nancy Drew. The simple act of being there to try is the best kind of teaching you can offer.

Geli said...

Scrabble is your friend!
Take a simple word with three or four letters and see how many words you can form with rearranging the scrabble letters. Out of RATS you make STAR and so on.... After a while you can expanded to more complex words.
My daughter loved playing with words, still does actually - her assays are far too long (teacher's complaint).

Sharon said...

I'm a teacher and I never taught my kids to read at home. That's what school is for. I read to them, 2 books a night. Some books they memorized and to them that was reading. And then they somehow became readers by first grade. They read when they are ready. Don't force it.

Erin said...

S, I can do a quick assessment of Zoey's reading level and help you pick out some books that would be more appropriate for her, if you want. I agree with some of the other commenters -- Where The Wild Things Are is wayyy too hard for her (it's about a 3rd grade reading level). The Biscuit suggestion is good. I have a gazillion books around that level, including several Biscuit books. I can grab a bunch to let you borrow (would just need them back by August when the new group of incoming 1st graders comes in). I will start putting together a selection and see if she's interested in anything I come up with. xo

Michelle M in KY said...

OH SUSANNAH...
This post struck me like a daggar through the heart. I can remember those nights. Last year during Kindergarten, Faith had a book to bring home every night. They were no more than 5 to 6 pages long and only had 4 or 5 words on them. But, OH how we struggled. She would try and I would get frustrated and tell her to concentrate. She would try again and I would get angry and say focus. "Struggle" seems like an understatement. I agree with the above posts that the book Zoey has is way too advanced for her at this point. Let me just say, I worked with Faith and worked with her. I read to her and had her read it back to me...over & over. We did flash cards with sight words. Then, one day, something just clicked. She started to read more freely, with bumps in the road ofcourse and I encouraged her and bragged on her & stopped yelling when I got frustrated. This year as a big first grader, she still has a new book every night that is rated at a first grade level. As the year has gone on, she has gotten better and better. My husband & I just had this conversation the other night about how wel she can read now. So, fast forward to last night...I'm lying in bed with my son, who just turned five & who is not in school...but we got him a book at the bookfair called Catch that Crook (a lego book) and Faith had read it to him a few times and so did I. He says Mama, I wanna read it to you...& he recites each page, skipping words here and there...but he had memorized what he heard. I started crying and he says..."Mama, why are you crying and I said "because you read so good" and a huge smile came across his face. The moral of my post is it takes TIME and I do believe it is when they are ready. She shouldn't be a master of words in Kindergarten. It will all work out, believe me. But, it is hard and frustrating and beautifully worth the wait.

Petunia Face said...

Hi all,

Thank you so much for the kind words and advice. I listened and told Zoey that Where the Wild Things Are is an awesome book, but not a great book to read in THE GOLD CHAIR. For now. So I bought her some level 1 Readers from Amazon. They arrived yesterday and she sat on the couch last night "reading" them, i.e. looking at the pictures but it makes me happy that she is excited about them.

Thank you, thank you.
xo,
S

laine's mommy said...

We're in the same boat except that I am lucky (?) that Laine has no interest in reading in THE GOLD CHAIR. Can you imagine my frustration being an English teacher who can't teach her child how to read? So...I had to take a break. Pretty pathetic, huh?