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My child is not like me

Raging Bull reading a book‘I am a dumb reader!’ This is the Raging Bull’s damning verdict about herself. She hasn’t made a huge amount of progress with her reading at school. For her, progress is defined by the color of her reading book (color denotes level). She may not be able to read words very well, but she is very good with colors.

I say what every parent would say in the circumstance: ‘But you can be a good reader. You just need a bit more practice and to try a bit harder. You will eventually get better at it.’

This is not cutting it with my feisty five-year-old. ‘Reading is boring,’ she announces sulkily, shooting me a look that dares me to contradict her.

For someone who has loved reading all her life, this is basically like sticking a needle in my eye and twisting it.

The truth is, she may not actually like reading, and I’m going to have to come to terms with it. At the moment, I’m hoping this might have something to do with the fact that her ‘reading’ books consist of people called Pip and Kip and a dog named Fluffy. They are about as interesting as a week of rain in the middle of summer.

So I gamely say to her: ‘But the books get more interesting when they have chapters.’

I don’t think she buys this. She’s listened to me read chapter books to her big sister and she’d rather pick her toes.

It makes me wonder why it would bother me if my child turned out to dislike the things I love, because I think it would. I could pretend to be a cool-as-anything parent, who would not give a shit as long as the children are happy. And I do want them to be very happy, but is it so bad to want them to share my love of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie?

(A disclaimer: if she didn’t like shopping and clothes, fine. She will actually save herself a lot of money and angst. But books, for crying out loud, she has to like books.)

Already, the Raging Bull has rejected another of my lifelong loves. She took a handful of ballet classes and concluded that they were ‘boring’.

Once she got over the novelty of the tutu and the pink leotard, she couldn’t be bothered with all the discipline. All she wanted was to leap through the air and pretend to be a fairy, so she didn’t see the point of doing repetitive exercises.

In fact, her attention span seems to be about five minutes unless she’s watching the television. If it’s related to watching a screen, she could be there for hours.

I think it’s easy to assume that our children will turn out a bit like us. We look for the similarities in our kids and not so much the differences; but the odds are that they will turn out more different than the same.

After all, they are individuals and not miniature versions of their parents. Believe me, I don’t want them to turn out like me, but I’d like my two girls to share some of my interests. I guess that’s what it comes down to.

In the eight years I’ve been a mother, I’ve concluded – very unscientifically – that the Chatterbox more closely resembles me, with the Raging Bull closer in personality to her ‘wild’ father.

At least her wild father likes books, though.

I am not yet teetering on the edge of total despair as far as the Raging Bull is concerned. I figure that once Kip and Pip are out of the way, she might come round to the idea of sitting down with a good book. She might even let me read a chapter book aloud without getting distracted before Chapter 2.

But I’m not entirely betting on it.

Have your kids started showing signs of not liking something you love and how do you feel about it?

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