You’ve heard that some people become a better parent by reading parenting books, but here’s another thought—have you ever considered that reading any book (or magazine or newspaper) helps with parenting? No, I’m not talking about the old adage, “Be a reader and your kids will be one, too” although I think that’s true. I’m talking about the fact that being “into” reading can help you calmly get through some “trying” times that would make some Moms and Dads jump out of their skin.
Some of my faithful blog readers already know that on school mornings, I head to my car to read about 10 minutes before my teenager, Allison, “blows” downstairs on her way to school (no, she doesn't drive herself yet). I ease the seat back, turn on the radio, take a drag of coffee and prop my newspaper on the steering wheel while I wait. I don’t have to hear her blame me for her own lateness, or deal with her frantically shoving a paper at me to sign, or any other number of last-minute headaches. By the time she gets to the car, she’s gotten her act together and so have I. Mornings always start off better when I’m out of the house, reading.
I’ve been taking notice lately of all the other ways that being a reading fan is such a great parenting asset.
For example: It’s time to pick up your child from gymnastics (or basketball or whatever) practice and you’re waiting at the gym and the team is running late, or you’re picking up your child from school and get a call on your cell phone that she has to stay after school for 15 minutes to work on a project. This kind of stuff happens all the time when you’re a parent. Do you nervously pace back and forth, counting down the minutes and mad that you have to wait? Do you yak with the other parents like a bunch of hens when you really don't feel like it? If you’re a reader and you’ve got something good to read, it’s just no big deal. My life is usually so busy, it’s great to be “forced” to enjoy myself and spend a few minutes reading.
Spending lots of time playing chauffeur? I’ve complained before about how the repetitious routes nearly drive me insane—but the times I’ve had a good book-on-tape or book-on-CD going, I’ve actually looked forward to getting in the car, because I can’t wait to listen to the next chapter. (And when a team or group needs volunteer drivers, I’m much more likely to raise my hand when I know that once the group is dropped off, it’s just me and the audio book, for 20-30 minutes while I drive back home…
Taking a bunch of teens out to eat, and they want to sit at their own table (i.e. No Adults Allowed) and you have to dine solo? I’m quite happy to do so when I have something to read…“That’ll be a table for two, thank you—for just me and my newspaper.”
Last February on the day of the big freshman dance, Allison decided to use the gift certificate she received at Christmas for a manicure and pedicure. While we were at the salon, my husband phoned to say he felt sorry for me, having to spend an hour or so at a spa/nail salon, just waiting on her. Not to worry, I told him, this was one trip to Northpark Mall I didn’t mind. I was in hog heaven, catching up on my reading and glancing up occasionally to see all the bling and flash that was stopping by to get primped for the NBA All-Star Game…hmmm, was that LeBron James in the corner getting a moustache wax? Who knows—I was too into my book to spend much time wondering.
You’d think my family would “get it” by now, but Allison actually made the mistake not long ago of thinking she could use “making me wait” as revenge. She wanted to go shopping with a friend but it was her plan that when I came to pick them up, I’d come in and pay for whatever was being held for her at the cash register. When I told her that wasn’t part of my plan, she fumed. “All right, well then I’ll just stay inside the store and won’t come out, and you’ll have to wait and wait!” she said triumphantly.
I just smiled and said, “That would be great…and I can wait all day, if you need me to!”