As the end of the school year approached, Luca became more and more anxious around bedtime. He’d get kind of pissy anytime we got down to reading books. Finally, after one night of particularly angry Luca, he blurted out, “I can’t read! You told me I would be able to ready by the end of the year!”
First off, Luca wasn’t illiterate. He could make his way through a lot of words. Granted, he wasn’t John F. Kennedy (he could read 1,200 WPM according to the reliable internet).
Second, where did he get the idea he’d be able to read by the end of Kindergarten? I was under the impression he’d just get really good at smearing finger paint on roller paper. And he’s world class at that.
Third, we’ve made a real effort not to pressure either boy scholastically. I would channel my father’s soothing voice whenever I said, “I don’t care what grades you get, just so long as you try your best.” Then I’d sit back and smoke and imaginary pipe like the one he did in the 1980’s.
But it was really bothering him. I got the impression maybe some of the other little booger eaters in his class were hassling him about it.
So Diana went out and bought a bunch of easy to read, level 1 books on subjects Luca enjoyed. Stuff on superheroes and Star Wars and Quantum Mechanics. They were fun and colorful and had lots of short little sentences.
Luca and I would sit in his bed and read through the books at whatever pace he wanted. Helping him out when he got stuck and tried not to do that thing where I would shout out the word when he couldn’t get past the first letter.
Elijah, ever the big brother, would say things like, “I’m sorry we can’t read ‘Harry Potter” tonight because, well, you know. Luca’s…problem.
On the last day of school, I found a little manila envelop with his final kindergarten grades. In it his teacher wrote, “Luca gives without ever asking for anything in return. He is genuinely concerned about his classmates and simply wants to do what is right.”
At the bottom she wrote, “And I am proud to say Luca reads at the state recommended level.”
I ran upstairs where Luca was taking a bath and made way too big a deal out of his scholastic achievements.
Eli said, “Do we get toys for getting good grades?”