So I don’t read to Ava very often.
I feel like people could easily judge me for this. I mean, we know reading is one of the most important things you can do with your little one, right? And a nonverbal, hearing-impaired child who has years of speech therapy in front of her surely needs plenty of story time to help her along. She probably needs about 4 times as many books read to her as Elijah does.
Even if you weren’t judging me for not reading to her, be assured that I feel bad about it anyway. Often. I mean, how long does it take to just read a book to your daughter, right? And what’s worse, Elijah & I read at least 3 books together every night. It’s totally unfair.
Well, I actually read a book to Ava today – a fun pop-up book called Glitter Critters. I began my endeavor at 4pm. Here are the steps that ensued.
- Inside my head: Hey, I could read Ava a book right now!
- Go find Ava’s Big Mac Button. Since our house is for sale, I can’t keep it in a convenient location; must remember where I put it.
- Record a new message on found button: “Turn the page” now plays back whenever she smacks it.
- Find the book icon the speech therapist gave me to put on the button so she associates it with reading.
- Sit down on the floor with Ava, the book and the button.
- Realize she can’t reach the button well while floor-sitting; need to use the high chair.
- Realize she has a poopy diaper.
- While changing diaper, observe child #1 having a (rare) accident on the carpet. Did I mention our house is on the market?
- Help Craig clean up accident. Not because he isn’t capable, but because teamwork is just kinder when it comes to accidents.
- Rearrange dining room chair/high chair setup.
- Situate Ava in her high chair with book and button on the tray.
- Remember she only has one hearing aid, as the other is still out for repair: feel bad for a moment; move on because nothing can be done about the fact that she may not hear half of what we read.
- Start reading, giving her time to remember she’s supposed to hit the button to tell me to turn the page.
- We read the book, and she gets into a button-smacking groove about halfway through! Does she get what she’s doing? Who knows! It’s a start.
- Hey, we did it! Let’s try it one more time!
- But first, why not take a picture of her with her fun book and the button?
- (Series of blurry/head-turned-away iPhone pictures ensues.)
- Fine, let’s quit trying to show off and just read the book again.
- Elijah runs up, begins excitedly hitting the button for Ava.
- Explain we have to be patient and wait for Ava to do it; he can have a turn after.
- Start reading again, with Elijah banished to a buttonless book on the couch…but now Ava is rubbing her eyes: her way of telling me she is DONE reading and probably also tired.
- Rubbing and yawning persists; it’s over.
- Go to the couch and read with Elijah while he promptly smacks the button for each page turn.
- Meanwhile glance guiltily at Ava, still sitting in her high chair, rubbing her eyes, bored.
- Leave Elijah to play with the button while I get Ava’s bath ready; it’s 4:30, Craig’s leaving for work and I have to get started on, yes, nighttime routine things, or the kids will get to bed later than I’d like. Book time is over.
So, when I feel guilty about the things I’m not doing for Ava…or when a therapist asks me if we’ve done the exercises/assignments she’s given us and I say no (which happens multiple times a week lately) I try to remember lists like this. Because while the details vary, so many tasks that seem simple when they ask if I’ve done them…just aren’t. Reading is one of a long list of things we are told to do with Ava each day, and often they end up being as complicated as this book-reading venture.
Lately I am trying to live by the motto “A low bar is better than no bar.” We can’t give up; but high standards right now are oppressive. So, hopefully I’ll get to read to Ava again next week. We’ll see.