Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Finally! My mom has come through! I sent her a bunch of questions and she answered them.

My mom has been a social worker for 27 years and for 20 of them has been a school social worker (MSW, LMSW). I had my own "issues" growing up so I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective. I was right! I am really fascinated by the answers. I learned something about myself and I hope people will learn that there's hope for kids with attention problems.

I'm including only PART 1. I don't have time to stick the "questions" back in but maybe I will when I get home! (she took them out) Enjoy.

ME: Bridget and I are two years apart (I’m older) but were very different in terms of reading skills. Bridget devoured everything. I remember she’d be curled up in a corner reading Anne of Green Gables while I’d be out running in circles or painting a picture. Did you do anything different with us education-wise?

MOM: You, Bridget and Kaila all loved being read to. Dad and I and your two grandmothers all loved to read to you. Even though Bridget is the only one who turned out to be an avid reader, I still have hope for you and Kaila. I think you all have the capacity to love literature. Some people are just late bloomers. Sorry I am jumping ahead. I'll get back to your early years. You never wanted to skip our reading before bed routine. And it just so happened that you had the exact same taste in children's books as I had. I never dreaded reading to you because I loved the books myself, even the ones we read over and over again. We were lucky to be able to afford to buy luscious books with big beautiful art work. Even though we frequently went to the library, we always bought you books for Christmas

ME: I remember you used to read us a lot of picture books. Can you name us some of your favorites? What were some of Bridget and my favorites?

MOM: One of my favorites was Chris Van Allsburg's The Wreck of the Zephyr. I can still picture the illustrations even though it has probably been twenty years since I have looked at the book. I also loved the sense of mystery and wonder it provoked. It's funny but something about it reminds me of a picture of an imaginary scene we had hanging in my childhood home. I used to stare at it and imagine going there. I called it "babyland". I guess the connection was just that it stirred my imagination. We did not own picture books with colorful illustrations

You of course loved the wild and wacky, In The Night Kitchen. And when I was desperate to get you all to sleep, I would choose the lilting refrain of Goodnight Moon. I loved the colors in those illustrations.

ME: Was there anything you got sick of reading?

MOM: The only books I used to get bored reading were the ones which I guess were supposed to teach kids vocabulary. I remember one that was given to you that was sort of like a picture encyclopedia, with pictures of everyday objects and little bears thrown in to make it more kid friendly. I really avoided books with crappy illustrations.

ME: Kaila (my third sister and seven years younger) seemed to be a little different than us. What were some of her favorite books? I remember she liked a book about a bear by himself. It doesn’t seem like a book that Bridget and I would like. Perhaps this is because we had each other and Kaila WAS by herself… in a way?

MOM: Bridget loved the Berenstain Bear books. I think Kaila did too. Kaila did love Bear by Himself. It was such a quiet little book. I liked it too, I guess because I agreed with the message, which was that sometimes you are your own best company. I think so many kids think they are "losers" when they are alone. But this book put a real positive spin on being alone.

ME: I remember that you read both picture books and novels. It was a mixture. I really loved that. Why did you decide to do that?

MOM: Bridget and Kaila both liked to collect the Berenstain Bear books. Bridget especially loved reading chapter books together. It probably took us quite awhile to get through some of them. I think she liked looking forward to the next chapter. We read the Roald Dahl books, BFG, and Witches. We also read Robinson Crusoe and another book--So Far from the Bamboo Grove--together. She remembers that Aunt Carol got us a signed copy of that one. Bridget did think that made it special. I think going from picture books to novels was a natural progression as you got older and developed bigger vocabularies. Its funny, you didn't like to read on your own, but you did have a good vocabulary and always did very well on standardized tests.

ME: Dad also used to make up stories sometimes and I think both Bridget and I loved that. I think it really encouraged us to be creative. Do you remember that? Did you ever participate?

MOM: Yes, Dad did enjoy making up stories. He would be a natural at that. He is the best one in both of our families at recounting funny things that have happened to him , in a very entertaining way. I think you are too by the way. You have a knack for mimicking people. I did make up stories too, but I think Dads were more memorable. You may not recall this, but I did tell you a made up story about walking upside down. i really used to love looking at the ceiling and pretending to walk on it.

ME: Did your parents read to you when you were little?

MOM: My mother always read to my brother and I. We had an old anthology of children's literature. I think I just loved the fact that we were all snuggled up together peacefully. We had her undivided attention in such a positive way. I could tell that she was enjoying it too. That is what I enjoyed most about reading to my children. The stories in those old books were less memorable than the time spent together. However, I do remember the first book that was ever given to me..

ME: I know there wasn’t a good selection back then and books were only printed in 2 or 3 colors, but do you have any favorites from then?

MOM: My sister gave me Eloise. I just loved it. I think it was the first book that I could call mine. It had a lot more illustrations than the old books and they were colorful and funny.

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