The trials and joys of motherhood

There are times when I struggle hard to not be competitive with daughter’s milestones. Reading Sari’s post, reminded me of what I had been doing in the last few months.

I have been quite a laid back mother, in comparison to some of the people I know. I have normally let her have fun, learn things when she is ready for them. I knew people who taught their 9 month old, the alphabet or the numbers. I consciously tried not to do that. I mean, there is plenty of time for all that, isn’t there?

Motherhood, unfortunately comes with all sorts of self-doubts and second guessing oneself, doesn’t it?? There came a time, when I started doubting my methods. Poohi had started phonics last year in the nursery, and she had started writing her name – she knew the sounds of some letters, but refused to read. I would try to get her to read a few simple words, but to no avail. She would be too busy trying to get me to do the reading.  I would have not bothered, had it not been for some of my friends who told me that their child started reading all by themselves, by the time they turned four. Now that had me worried. None of these children had been exposed to books as much as Poohi had, and yet they seem to have learnt to read faster. She loves books, loves being read to, and yet did not want to read? What was I doing wrong? Their mums said that they would spend time every day teaching them to read. And I never did that. I was so worried that I was not helping her enough.  Husband said that I was being too hard on myself, and once she starts, there would be no looking back.

I started trying, but it never worked. She knew every story in every book that we owned and would just rattle off the story, without even trying to read it!  All she wanted was for me to read the stories to her. I was torn between trying harder or letting her be.  I did not want to be a pushy mother, but at the same time, did not want to ‘not push her enough’, if you know what I mean.  I was also scared that I might end up putting her off reading altogether, if I tried too hard. That’s when I decided to buy her a set of ‘Read at home’ books, that she had never read before. I told her that these books had to be read by her – I was not allowed to read it to her.

Every time, she expressed some interest in the books, we would sit together and look at the pages. Initially, she was more interested in the pictures, and then, when she realized that I was not going to read the story to her, started reading – just like that! She knew the sounds, and could easily read the words. I would help her with the tougher ones, but it was mainly her own efforts. Now, she picks up the books by herself, with no prompting from me, and reads, whenever she fancies it. Not just that, she also tries to read my books, and is delighted when she finds words that she knows like ‘and’ or ‘this’.I still don’t know if it was that new set of books that did it or it was just the right time for her, but I am just happy that she is reading, and is reading because she enjoys it, not because I am pushing her to read. Because she wants to, not because she has to.

There she is, grabbing a few minutes after breakfast this morning to read. I can’t tell you how much that sight gladdens my heart. I just hope that her interest in books and stories stay with her all her life.

And here is her little library that houses her books

Books,books and more books..

..but it’s all about Poohi’s books this time.

Rashmi asked me in a comment here about the type of books Poohi reads .There was no way I could answer that in a comment, so decided to devote a full post to it. Nothing gives me as much pleasure as talking about books.

The first books I bought for Poohi were three Winnie the Poohi books when she was a few days old. We got something called a ‘bounty’ pack, if I remember correctly, and it had all sorts of vouchers for kids stuff, these books were part of the deal. And I used to read them to her too, right from the time she was days old. People must have thought me crazy, but I couldn’t care less 🙂 We never looked back from then.

The next purchase that I remember clearly is a red soft cloth book. It was wonderful, and Poohi loved it. It had a little story and it was soft enough for a very young child to play with. It came with a buggy clip so it kept her entertained even while we were out. I have no idea how much she understood, but she used to hang on to every word I read out to her.

Poohi with her cloth book.

She also had some ‘touchy feely books’ which lets them feel things. For instance, furry animals would have a real fur coat in the book. It is lots of fun, even for us 🙂

One of her Touchy Feely Books.

I think one of the things I did on a regular basis was take her to the library. Letting her play in the soft play area, letting her explore and look at the books around her. As she grew older, I started  letting her choose her books. And I would go with whatever she chose.  Some of the books she chose were not exactly exciting, so I would modify the story to make it exciting for her.

I also bought books that I remember from my childhood. Fairy tales and stuff like that.  Oh yes, I had picked up a Disney series, with Nemo, Incredibles and and all those stories – it is a collection of 12 books, and she loves them! And when she discovered the movies – much later, she was delighted when she realized that she knew the stories already 🙂

We also got some free book packs from the library at the ages of six months, 18 months and 3 years – I forgot to pick up the 3 years one, and I guess it is too late now 😦 She loved those books. At the age of 6 months, it was more pictures and just one or two words. At 18 months, there was a slightly longer stories, but with lots of illustration. At each stage, I think they gave away books suitable to that age group.

This time in India, she got a lovely gift of some wonderful books based on Amar Chitra Katha from Deepti Aunty, and she fell in love with them. Simple stories, easy language, and lovely illustration- she loved them. So I picked up some more panchtantra tales which she adores. As I had mentioned here, I also picked up Bhagwatham for Kids, and she loves to hear the stories about Krishna. Somehow Ramayana does not seem to interest her much, I suppose Krishna has more universal appeal because of his naughty antics.

Some of her books from India

And along with the books I buy for her, I take her to the library regularly, get her to pick up books for herself, the only problem being that she ends up picking books which have princess in them(ughhh!, there are only so many princess stories that I can read out). Some of the stories are so much fun. Some of them are a different take on the popular fairy tales/nursery rhymes that we are already familiar with. I remember one story on Dimity Dumpty, Humpty Dumpty’s little sister – I loved that one! She also gets books from school to take home, so she gets a variety of books.

Some of her books – in no particular order or preference – The Beatrix Potter is one of my favourites though.

Thanks to our nomadic existence, I don’t buy books for myself here. It would break my heart if I had to leave them here when we move back to India. So I make up for that by buying her books, and these we are surely not leaving behind ! And let me let you in on  a secret, I enjoy her books as much as she does, if not more. Every time we pick up a batch of new books, I can’t wait to read them, so I read them first 🙂 Sneaky me 🙂 I can’t wait for her to start reading all be herself and get started on all those Enid Blytons I loved! Every time I see a beautifully packaged collection of those childhood books, it takes a lot of persuasion from my practical self to prevent myself from buying them right away!