The column first appeared in a newspaper in January, 2005
I spent most of Tuesday night worried about a girl named Bunny.
I was worried about Bunny because she is the main character in a book our 7-year-old daughter Emma brought home from school.
Emma is in first grade, so she has to do a lot of reading. Much of that reading needs to be done out loud, to either my wife or me.
I think I can speak for most veteran parents out there when I says this. Look, I love our daughter. I love the fact that’s she’s reading. I love to listen to her read aloud. I love to see her make progress in her reading. But seriously, sometimes I would rather listen to John Kerry tell me his life story than hear Emma read.
“I was born in Colorado. But my parents moved us to Massachusetts. We were rich. We were poor. In high school, I voted for the class president before I voted against the class president. I….zzzzzzzz.”
Having a first-grade kid read to you can sometimes get a tad boring, is what I’m saying.
But I’m nothing if not a dedicated parent so I listen to Emma read. Granted, I do this by muting the TV so I can listen to Emma read while still watching basketball.
I’m a multi-tasker, is what I am.
One problem with listening to a first-grade kid read is that there is no such thing as a “quick read”.
You think this column sort of drags on? Imagine having to listen to a first-grade kid read it to you.
For a first-grade kid, each word is like a brand-new discovery and has to be treated as such.
It’s like listening to George Bush trying to read a speech.
Tuesday night, Emma was reading a book called “The Best Teacher in the World,” to me. In the book, Bunny is picked by her teacher to deliver a note to another teacher in her school.
According to what Emma read to me, getting picked by Bunny’s teacher to deliver a note is a very big deal and Bunny was very proud she had been picked.
Unfortunately, not all of Bunny’s classmates took her being picked to deliver the note as well as they should have and, instead, made fun of her.
But Bunny was to proud she had been picked to deliver the note to notice some of the other kids were mocking her.
But and this is where the plot really thickens, Bunny’s teacher forgot to tell her where, exactly she was to deliver the note and Bunny was too proud to ask. So, poor Bunny wandered the school halls for a while.
I’ll let Emma take over the story from here.
While Emma was reading, I was getting nervous. As I sat there listening to Emma and watching the basketball game, I found myself thinking “Charging? How can that be charging? Clearly he was moving into the lane.”
Ha. I joke.
No, I found myself thinking, “She wandered where? Come on Bunny just ask for help. KEEP READING EMMA. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO BUNNY.”
As it turns out, Emma also wanted to know what happens to Bunny. And, as I listened to Emma read, I forgot about the basketball game and noticed something. Emma was really reading. She wasn’t just reading to get from one word to the next but really reading. Emma was reading in an “I-can’t-wait-to-turn-the-page-and-see-what-happens-next” kind of way.
Sure, she was still reading sort of slow, but she was reading with a purpose.
And I was proud. But I was also just a bit sad. I started thinking about all of those books my wife and have read to Emma for the past seven years and wondering where the time has gone.
Where was the little girl who sat on our porch swing and listened while we read “Are You My Mother”? to her.
I wondered where the little girl who laughed when I read “The Monster at the End of the Book” to her had gone.
Then I realized she was sitting right next to me. Reading to me.
So I turned off the TV.