SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom!

September 14, 2010 at 12:01 am 24 comments

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: We’re all home schoolers

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I love to read. I was not one of those kids who taught myself to read when I was three, but at some point I learned, and I loved reading. My Oma reads. I remember spending the night at her house on weekends, and we’d sit together at the dinner table, ignoring each other, each engrossed in a book we took out from the library. My other grandmother bought me books. (To this day, I still think that purchasing books is a status symbol. Forget seeing a 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring minivan; my real mommy-envy comes from seeing a house full of books that don’t have city barcodes on them.)

My mom is a big reader as well. She read to me, long past the point of when I was old enough to read to myself.  In fact, I remember the last book she ever read out loud to me, when I was at least 10; The Pigman by Paul Zindel.  There were always books around when I was growing up, and magazines. Lots of printed material in the bathroom.  At breakfast, I read the back of the cereal box.

I assumed that when they got to the age of five, my children would be readers as well.

They’re not.

To say that this irked me would be an understatement. Having children who didn’t read – and I currently have twin 7-year-olds, a 5-year-old, and an almost 3-year-old, with only one reader among them – felt like a splinter in my non-dominant hand. Some days it irritated me a little, enough to Google for a remedy. Some days it didn’t bother me at all. But it was always there, in the back of my head, prodding me: my children didn’t read.

The September after they turned five – and with trepidation – I sent my twins, Animal and Mineral, to public kindergarten.  In my heart, I wanted to homeschool, but the practicality of homeschooling with four young children seemed impossible.  And I did love the mommy break for seven hours each day, when I went from four kids down to two.  But after a few months of school, I determined that they were neither learning nor having fun – either would have been a good enough reason to keep them in school – and I decided to homeschool.

I started the year with an expensive math curriculum and “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” I’ll spare the long details, but suffice it to say that we lasted about 11 lessons, and I never found them easy.  Mineral tolerated it; Animal was downright hostile toward it.

My next tactic was going to the library every week.  This wasn’t much of a chore for me; I’d go to the library at least that much on my own.  The mission was keeping Animal and Mineral off the computers. Once I mastered that, I tried to keep them away from the comic books.

The *^$@#%($ comic books, I tell you!  If having non-readers felt like a splinter, having children who coveted comic books felt like Chicken Pox.  It was so incredibly annoying. It was like they could see how badly I wanted them to read – and not just read, but love reading – and yet instead of reading like I wanted them to, they wanted to look at cartoons.

Trying to be a hard-ass mom, I only allowed them to take out a comic book if they also took out a “real” book.  They might love comic books, but I would show them who was boss! They grudgingly obliged me, but later I’d find the “real” book in my car, while they sat on the couch with their comics (typically upside down, and reading from right to left).

My epiphany came a few months later when I was in the hospital with dehydration. (Not comic-book-hatred related.)  I was admitted for a few days, with an IV in my arm and giving poop samples in a cup, and my husband brought all the kids to see me.  Animal and Mineral proudly brought me a 3-ring-binder, in which they’d made a comic book. For me. Their awful, irritated, passively-aggressively-trying-to-force-them-to-read mom.

I took my pooping in a cup as penance, and vowed to encourage reading of any kind, even if it wasn’t my kind. And that’s what it was really about anyway: I wanted them to read the way I thought was right.

I would not label myself as an unschooler, although that’s how I am now when it comes to reading.  We have books.  We have computers.  We have a TV and I use closed-captioning, because when you’re in a house with four young kids and a dog, it doesn’t matter how loud you turn the TV volume, you will still miss most of the characters’ conversations. The kids have games and toys that they want to understand, all of which require reading.  One of them reads. The other three don’t read yet.  I am okay with that.  They all love comic books.  I’m okay with that too.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Entry filed under: attachment parenting, family, homeschool. Tags: .

The very brief birth story of Animal and Mineral Thank you, Hoarding: Buried Alive

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Guest post: life learning with our children « Janet Fraser  |  September 14, 2010 at 5:34 am

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 2. Every Day Is A School Day | Finding Summer  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:52 am

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 3. Despite the Big Yellow Bus « The Practical Dilettante  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:10 am

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 4. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Those are the kinds of realizations that teachers have in those sappy movies – you know, the ones where the teachers take under-performing students and turn them into geniuses? ;) (I’m a sucker for those movies, btw)

    Reply
  • [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 7. Kat  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    First of all, you homeschool with 4 kiddos in the house!? Wow! I am so inspired! I truly do want to homeschool but I often think I won’t be able to handle it and I only have 2 (so far!). It gives me hope that a mother of 4 can!

    Now as for your post, I LOVED it! It’s so true about how we often tend to focus on things the way we want them, but often it works out much better for everyone if we follow our children’s lead and focus on their strengths and likes.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • 8. life learning… « living peacefully with children  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 9. those who can’t teach « very, very fine  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 10. Kat  |  September 14, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Oh I forgot to say that I was pleasanlty surprised to see you mention the 100 easy lessons book. Another veteran homeschooling mom recommended it to me a while back and we started using it, but it’s not super kiddo friendly, in fact they are plain boring! I think. We recently started using it but I modify the lessons and we tend to just do parts of them.

    Reply
  • [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 12. Learning at Home With a Preschooler and Toddler  |  September 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 13. Amy  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Great story! I, too, have fond memories of reading and being read-to as a child and I hope my son enjoys reading. But I think I could settle for comic books.

    Reply
  • 14. Cooking Savoury Pikelets — Science@home  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 15. boheime  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Books have always been such a wonderful part of my (and now my children’s) life.

    Reply
  • 16. Rachael  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    You might end up having it both ways. My husband was a big reader of comics as a boy (his mother HATED it, threw them away, etc.), and he’s now a big reader of all things.

    Reply
  • 17. Lauren @ Hobo Mama  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:00 am

    That is an awesome story. I think I seriously teared up a little during the hospital scene. There really are those moments in parenting where you realize: Gosh, I really need to let this go. I have those moments probably too often. It seems the more I want something, the less my kid does. So, yeah. Yea, comic books! :)

    Reply
  • 18. Heather at Life, Gluten free  |  September 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    All in good time! :) We learn so much from our children!!

    Reply
  • 19. Unschooling the School of Me  |  September 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 20. BluebirdMama  |  September 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Oh, that would rub me the wrong way too. How frustrating when our kids don’t act the way we would!
    I’m taking it slow with getting on the reading bandwagon with my 5 year old but boy do I sure hope he loves it once he starts.
    I bet your hospital comic book was adorable!

    Reply
  • 21. Education Starts At Home | Diary of a First Child  |  December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 22. How We Homeschooled | LivingMontessoriNow.com  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:21 am

    [...] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! —Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, itdidn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) [...]

    Reply
  • 23. Jean  |  June 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I can sympathize.

    I have a niece resistant to reading. She is 7. She was in with slow learners for a while and is a smart girl, but a little dyslexic. She would rather watch tv or play on the computer. She just would not practice her reading

    It is frustrating, as I try to show her how much fun reading can be, as I and my sister did quite a bit of reading when growing up. I hope to work with her more this summer.

    Reply
  • 24. Homeschooling- MY NEEDS? - Home Grown Families  |  July 22, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    […] SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! — Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, it didn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup) […]

    Reply

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About Mommy Soup

Wife and homeschooling mom of five, including my Christmas Day homebirth baby. Not Catholic, Amish, or quiverfull; we just like to... you know!

Writing about my interests: natural pregnancy and birth; attachment parenting; cooking; baking; homeschooling; green living; human rights; child passenger safety; dog training, and life after weight-loss surgery.

In my free time I try to figure out how I can promote world peace while wasting time on Facebook.

NaNoWriMo 2010

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