On Not Being a Reader…Yet

Blueberry picking: that’s what comes to mind when I read Pernille’s heartfelt plea that we honor each individual child’s timetable, that we put our rigidity aside.

Just last week, my husband and I drove to a nearby local farm to pick blueberries. A friend had urged me to give it a try—being a recent convert to this berry, something about the texture, I wasn’t immediately spurred to action—but on this blue-skied, sunny day, we set out. Arriving early, we had a grove of picking almost to ourselves. The young volunteer who led us to our row said, “Pick all the blue before you move on in that direction,” and she pointed down our row into an unending line of green bushes. So we begin, and there’s A LOT OF BLUE! When I’m directed to do “all” of anything, I take it to heart, so I’m gently lifting canopy branches to discover clusters of unseen blue, blue, blue. Then I realize that, despite these bushes having been planted at the same time, nurtured with the same attention, feasting on the same sun, soil, and air, all of the individual berries are not blue. There are some still deep red, some hard green nubs, some so ripe they’ve fallen to the ground ahead of pickers, all by themselves, just ready to get scooped up—or squashed if we’re not careful.

You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. Why can’t we learn more from the lessons nature provides? The volunteer tells us that, at some point, a mechanized picker will roll down the rows and shake whatever lingers off the branches, but until then, the joy of hand gathering what’s ripened in time will continue in waves.

Isn’t is wonderful what nature allows, an ongoing unfolding to elicit wonder rather than concern, in the fullness of time?

Pernille Ripp

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She tells me she doesn’t want to go to first grade.  That she no longer wants to be a first grader.

This child who loves school.

This child who loves her teachers.

This child who has been beaming since the day she realized that after kindergarten came first grade, another year to learn, another year to grow.

And yet, here she is, declaring that for her school is no longer where she wants to be.  So I ask, what changed?  Why not?  And she gets a little quiet, sinks a little bit into my body, snuggles up as if the secret is hard to carry and tells me quietly, “I don’t know how to read…”

Because in her mind, all first graders know how to read.  Because in her mind all first graders know how to look at a book and automatically unlock all of its secrets just like that. …

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