Chris and I are readers. We have always had tons of books in nearly every room in every domcile we’ve maintained.

When I was pregnant for the first time, and while Nic was a baby, I read about the importance of a ‘print rich environment.’ Providing him one, was not going to be a problem. Not only are there reading materials everywhere, we read, everywhere.

I’ve always found that to be an important part of a literate household…not just that there are reading materials available…but that children see adults in the act of reading, for pleasure, for information, for the heck of it.

Nic has become an excellent reader (even though I worried some when he still didn’t enjoy it at his 8th birthday.) Theo taught himself to read about a year ago. Now at almost 5 1/2 he’s most excellent at it too. Whinnie has even started ‘reading’ books to us and to herself.

So, yeah, we’re literate household — with 4 readers and one active prereader. Chris and I both read to the children. Sometimes they read to us. There are a pile of books read every night before bed. Weekly trips to the library are a cause for excitement.

These are good things, all.

And yet, it’s not enough.

Yesterday afternoon I sat at our ‘project table’ (dinner table that has been taken over by various cutting, coloring, decoration-making projects) coloring with Whinnie by my side. Nic was upstairs building with mindstorms (his deep obsession) and Theo was building with legos nearby (his deep obsession.)

As I colored and chatted with Whinnie about her coloring, something clicked. It occurred to me that we need a word (one word only) that means the same thing to arts, crafts, creativity, making things as the word ‘literate’ means to reading and being able to learn about the world through words.

Because while we have done a darn fine job of giving our children a literate household — we haven’t, I haven’t — done a good enough job of offering to them, modeling for them, this sense of knowing the world through what we make with our own hands.

Surely this is as important as being literate.

Although I don’t have that perfect ONE WORD for what I am trying to communicate, I can still endeavor to make this important change.

So I sit at the project table and I color, or draw, or cut. And eventually some (sometimes all) of the attachlings will show up to join in.

And even if they don’t, the process calms me. Creating something, no matter how temporary, pulls me away from the ‘gotta be doing something productive’ neurosis. Working on creating something provides the necessary ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ time that children sometimes need to discuss things troubling or confusing.

And maybe, just maybe, one of these days during this time set aside for just creating, that perfect word will come to me. 🙂

peacefulness to you,
Mary

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