Monday, September 1, 2008

Reading Is Fundamental

"School starts tomorrow," I said.

My youngest glowered at me from the couch. "So?" he demanded.

"You'll have to learn to walk upright again," I told him.

He turned his attention back to the television and silently dismissed me.

Since baseball ended he hasn't done much of anything. I force him to play a little basketball every day; if I'm paying a fortune for a try out he better make the most of it. Besides that, however, I'm not sure he's been moving between breakfast and dinner.

This is nothing compared to our spectacular parenting failure on the reading front. Through some inexplicable quirk of academic evaluation, each of our three boys have been selected over the years to participate in summer enrichment courses. It's a multi-school district attempt to provide a little extra for kids who at least peer through the talented and gifted fence, four hours a day during the month of June. Course offerings range from biology to theater to history, all led by enthusiastic teachers in an environment that encourages learning. Naturally my kids hate it.

The oldest, being the oldest and thus getting the short end of the stick, had to attend the most years. The middle boy wore us down a little earlier. The youngest, sensing the exhaustion that so often accrues to the benefit of those who share his birth order, convinced us he didn't need to do it this year.

"Alright," we told him, raising our voices to be heard over the howls of our other children. "You need to read at least an hour a day instead."

"I will, I swear," he replied.

"He never has to do anything!" shrieked the middle one.

"This is bullcrap!" thundered the oldest.

"You'll read, won't you?" I asked the youngest.

"I promise."

He did read, I suppose, if you include the back of cereal boxes, the crawl at the bottom of ESPN, and an occasional Sports Illustrated article. Not an hour a day, though. Maybe an hour a week. This didn't bother me as much when he was at least playing two or three hours of baseball every day. Watching him sit on the couch like a lump, though, that chaps me.

Which is why I told him this weekend he owes me ninety hours of reading this fall.

"I can't read that much," he complained while his brothers danced in glee.

"Sure you can," I said. "I'll help you pick out books."

"You read terrible books," he snarled.

"Dad doesn't read books. He reads blogs," said the middle one.

"That's because Dad likes his blogs better than us," said the youngest.

"Yes I do," I said. "I can still find you some books to read."

"I'm not reading for ninety hours."

"Was there something in my voice that made you think it was a request? Because it wasn't."

"I hate you," he said.

"Why do you think I have my blogs?" I asked.


Anonymous said...

Brothers Karamazov here he come!

Heh. That ought to take the 90 hours and make them feel like 90 centuries.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

yeah. Obviously. Cuz we bloggos don't poop in Snag's house.

Although given the chance....

Anonymous said...

i recommend War and Peace.

Jennifer said...

I think he needs some Jane Austen. Moowaahaahaa!!! Hit him where he lives with some chic-lit!

fish said...

I started Ulysses in 1982, and I am still reading it...

Chuckles said...

The Battle of Midway

If that doesn't teach him something, he uh, well, I'm not really sure what he would gain from that book but I liked the hell out of it in the fifth grade. I am not sure how old your spawn are, but if they have feet, they are probably old enough to prop them up on something with good historical action books.

Kathleen said...

Don Quixote! Make him start where it all began!

Anonymous said...

Cervantes not Cerveza!

Don't do drugs!

Righteous Bubba said...

I recommend Reading for Dummies.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

wait, we don't get school credit for reading blogs?

I want my money back.

Shannon Erin said...

The blogs love you Snag!