Bonus points for people who recognize the song lyric in the title.
Sage was so proud to have been promoted in reading level recently, that she has been asking to read out loud to me, which I love. Last night she pulled a book from her backpack and asked again.
“It’s not level L/M, Mom…it’s a level K book. I can shop for level M books but this is K. It’s still hard. Is that okay?” Well of course it’s okay. My feeling is reading is reading, and if she likes the story, then there’s plenty of time for Cam Jansen and Dostoyevsky later. Apologies, Tiger Moms.
I dutifully listened for oh, the first 20 pages or so about the High Rise Private Eyes and blahblah blah lalalalaa something about a caper. No idea whatsoever. I’m sure it was very exciting but my attention was elsewhere, I admit. Until Sage blurted out one of the passages:
“I need help. Because I’m FUCKING reading.”
And I uh…
I was fairly certain that her first grade book baggie didn’t contain anything with the phrase I’m fucking reading. But hey, it’s Brooklyn. We like to think of ourselves as very progressive, so who knows.
We looked at the page together to see if we could tell just what that word really was. I wasn’t mad at all, yet I could already see tears starting to well up in her eyes like they do any time she is wracked with inner guilt about something.
We found the sentence.
“I’m FLUNKING reading,” I read to her. “He is flunking reading. That means to fail. He needs help because he is failiing reading”
And I showed her why it was so easy to confuse two words that look similar when you read too quickly, the same way she read “eskimo” as “equilateral.” (A mistake I was very proud of by the way.)
And that’s when she burst out in tears.
My sensitive little girl.
She clutched me so hard, filled with such shame and embarrassment and remorse I couldn’t believe it. She is so tough until she’s not. Just a few days away from her seventh birthday (eep), she has an enviably strong moral compass and very clear sense of right and wrong; it breaks her up when she thinks she’s erred in some unforgivable way. Even if it’s entirely, wildy forgivable. Even if only she knew that accidentally blurting out a curse word is about the least of a mother’s worries when raising girls.
So we cuddled and I told her about the time my brother, about three, calmly said, “Fuck” to my father. When my dad asked him where he learned that, expecting Jeff to name the older neighbor kids across the street, he quietly pointed to me and said, “Lizzie.” I was five.
Or there was the time that Thalia, about two, yelled, JESUS! JESUS CHRIST, MOM! And that’s when I knew it was time to start watching my language around my kids.
I reassured her that every parent has a funny story like this about their child, and I promised her she’d laugh about it later. Or…now. Because soon we were laughing together.
“I wasn’t mad, Sage. Promise. I was just was wondering, what kind of book would have a word like that in it!”
“Well Mom,” she said very seriously. “It is Level K.”