Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and Evelyn!
These were the words she uttered with such enthusiasm the other day that made me laugh and love here even more. If that’s even possible.
My mom told me that the reason I had to do first grade twice (yes, I was held back in the grade where you learn about finger painting and have recess for as much time as you don’t), was because I had memorized the books she read to me and tricked her into thinking I knew how to read. I went into assessment testing having no idea what I was about to be up against, and distinctly remember crying so hard as I sat at my desk and couldn’t figure out what to do, because I couldn’t read the instructions.
The other night, during our nightly routine of collecting her babies and books, she announced that she wanted to read to me. I figured she’d look at the pictures and mumble her incoherent string of words that she does when she is literally at a loss for words. She opened the first book, and although she didn’t have it down word for word, she had certain phrases down pat. She looked over at me, flashed me a tight lipped, cheeky smile, and went on with her “reading.” She really is my daughter.
Evelyn is going to be starting pre-school this September. For four hours per week she’ll get to finger paint and run around to her heart’s content. I doubt she’ll get away with the type of reading that she does around here. It’s selfish of me, but I don’t want to correct her. In my mind, that’s admitting that she’s growing up and ready for school soon, even if it’s basically a glorified play date. I don’t want to correct her renditions of the stories because they’re too innocent and creative. I don’t want to stop her from saying “ladies and gentleman! boys and Evelyn!”
She’ll have plenty of time to grow up and do things the “right” way. Of course, I want her to learn to read. This isn’t a vent against all things conventional. I never want her to feel like I felt that day in testing. But she will, at some point. She’ll feel scared and unprepared and silly. She has it all coming. Somebody someday will tell her that Evelyn is not a synonym for all girls, but it’s not going to be me. At least not today. So for now, I’m just going to let her keep playing, pretending, imagining and making it up as she goes. I would do well to take a cue from her.