My wife and I sat in our family room last night, listening as our son read to us. When his voice tired, she read for a while. I am exempt from any such responsibility because of a long-standing voice disorder, adductor spasmodic dysphonia, so I just sat and listened.
My son read first an article by John Ross called Children and Reading that I had printed out for him. After that, he read from Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor for Kids.
The Ross article was fascinating. I had picked it because it discussed two things that I thought important for children: to develop a love of reading and to understand what drives bullies to act as they do. The O'Reilly book, we had given to our son for Christmas. We had no idea what was in it but hoped that it would contain at least a dollop or two of common sense and potentially some items of interest for our teenage son.
I think the Ross article impressed my son. I had hoped it would. I could almost see him thinking to himself: "Hmmm, So, even cool, famous, tough guys read books for pleasure. Maybe Mom and Dad are right about reading after all." Maybe he will read more now. Or maybe not. I hope he does.
The O'Reilly Factor for Kids also seemed to interest my son. As he read a chapter called Friends, he recognized behaviours that he had witnessed over the years by his peers and we discussed together whether individuals who might engage in such behaviours could ever rightly be considered as friends. Much of what O'Reilly discusses is simply common sense and amplifies what we have been trying to teach our son over the years. A friend is someone who is loyal, shares your life during good times or bad and is truthful and supportive. Makes sense, right? Someone who lies to you, who isn't around when you need him, who criticizes or belittles you, is not a friend.
My family moved so many times that I had several sets of friends from those periods when we lived somewhere long enough for me to develop relationships. I had some really good friends during my teenage years, but over time lost track of most of them. I moved around so much after I left high school that maintaining long-distance friendships was difficult. When our son came along, my wife and I decided that we would make every attempt to stay in one area long enough for him to graduate from high school with his friends. So far, so good.
As my wife and son read, I reflected on my own friendships over the years. I will save further comment for another post someday, except to say that I appreciate the true friends I have had and, wherever they might be, whether or not we have maintained contact, I would like to wish each and every one of them a Happy New Year.
And you, dear readers, are my friends too, so best wishes for 2006 to you and your families.
Thanks for reading The Atavist.
See you in 2006.