My son wants to read. Desperately. He’s only four and a half, but he’s the only one in our family of five who cannot read. While he delights in the fact that he has a house full of people who can read to him, it still just doesn’t cut it. He wants to read it all for himself.
Steven absolutely loves books and always has. As active as he is, he has never intentionally torn any part of a book, even as a baby. Even though he cannot read the words, he loves nightly book time possibly even more than his sisters. He will intently and slowly peruse each page in his books, studying the content. If it’s a book that has been read to him before, he will recall the storyline as he reads. He has a couple of books with accompanying cd’s, and he delights in following along in his book while he listens to the cd.
My intention was to not begin officially teaching him to read until his fifth birthday this coming August. But, by Thanksgiving of this past year, my baby boy had convinced me that we were not going to make it until August. When I finally told him we would start learning to read after Thanksgiving, the excitement he expressed nearly blew me away.
The thing is, Steven is obviously young, and even though he’s very smart, reading has not come naturally to him. He’s had to work for it. There have been several days when it has just not clicked with him. On those days, I have insisted that we just step away. And each time we’ve had to step away, he’s cried. He hasn’t wanted to quit! He wants to read that badly!
One morning recently as we were starting school, we were going around the table sharing prayer requests. His request? That God would help him learn how to read. As we finished our prayer time, making sure to include his request, he was just beaming. He knows it’s hard. And he feels the frustration. But, he so greatly hungers for it. Even at his tender age, he isn’t just willing to work for it, he hungers to work for it. And even though the results are slow and the road is long, he won’t let us back off one bit. He is determined.
When I think of what God has for me to learn, I often wonder what growth I would see if I had half of the determination Steven has. There are many lessons I feel as if I’m mired in. I can’t see the progress and wonder if it’s really worth the effort that I’m putting into it. Some days my brain just doesn’t get it. Other days I put what seems to be a ton of effort into learning only to see one beginner baby step’s worth of progress. Some days I just quit, and I’m not quick to come back, either.
When I stop and realize that my four-year-old has more drive and determination than I do to stick with something hard for the long haul, I am convicted. When I hear him say that reading is fun and he loves it, even on a day when the frustration has caused us to have to put it aside, I am convicted. When he hands me the phonics book that holds the charts he really doesn’t like and asks me to go over them with him so he can learn, I am convicted. When I look at how, at his age, he has stuck with this process for over three months without wavering, even on the days when he doesn’t see much progress, I am blown away…and convicted.
If my baby boy can do hard things in order to grow, so can I. If my sweet child can rejoice even in the frustrating moments, somehow knowing that they will produce fruit in due time, so can I.
And just for the record, God is answering that sweet little prayer. Reading is clicking with my baby boy, and I can’t tell you who is more proud – me, his daddy, or the big boy himself.