I probably could have been home twenty minutes earlier if I had kept up with traffic, and taken the shorter route home. I took the long way home today, though. Things have been a little up in the air for me lately, but that’s not why I drove more slowly and took turns that would make our trip longer.
Today I wanted to get home. I had things I wanted to do after my son’s two hours of therapy and then an hour drive home. As a parent, though, it’s not always about me.
My 3rd grader has to read several novels this year. Honestly, this is one of the hardest parts of our schooling venture as reading comprehension is such a struggle for him. His list of novels includes some that I knew would be a little too easy, and some that would definitely be too hard.
He chose Johnny Tremain as one of his novels to read. It is such a great piece of literature and really makes the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War era come alive for young minds!
However, I knew, going into it, that this book would be one that was much too hard for him, in terms of comprehension. He seemed determined, though, even if he could only read 1 or 2 pages at a time. We had the novel list over the summer, and he actually started this book in August.
322 pages of Revolutionary War era historical fiction – it doesn’t get much better for a young boy who loves to study about wars, guns, the effects on culture and economy, and so forth. However, at only 1-2 pages at a time? This book was bordering on torture for me – constant reminders to please read a few more pages.
“Try to finish a section,” I begged, “and maybe even a whole chapter!”
Only to be met with, “No possible way! This book is too hard for me to read too much of at one time.”
GREAT realization of his own needs, if I do say so myself! But, it did not bode well for finishing a 322-page book. (And yes, I do know I’ve already mentioned that the book has 322 pages. It just seems to bear repeating.)
When we were getting ready to go to therapy today, I asked him to take his book and work on getting it done. He was on page 288, so I was moderately hopeful! After eating some lunch, he had a little while to read, and read the 12 pages to get to page 300.
He read 12 pages on the drive to therapy. That meant 22 pages to read on the way home. I wasn’t hopeful.
And then we started driving. He’d give me little progress reports. He’d peek out from behind the seat and say, “Page 304!” Or he’d comment about what was happening on page 307. As we sat in a little traffic, I realized we could maybe – just maybe – get this book finished…if…I took the long way home today.
And so I slowed down. I didn’t keep pace with people in the left or middle lane. Rather I slowed down to the speed of people in the slow lane. (Around here, that’s the lane where people *only* drive about 5 miles per hour *over* the speed limit. Not really “the slow lane”; I realize that.)
As it worked, there was an accident on a separate road and so it took longer to get to our exit, and I chose to view that as a blessing (in order to give him more time with his book) rather than to be frustrated that the drive home was taking even longer.
As we got closer to where we live, I made the choice to stay on the main road rather than take a short cut. I had to chuckle when I rounded the big bend in the road, only to find out that we were behind a long school bus, which could not drive up the hills very quickly.
And so he read more pages.
And then we got to our town. In the spirit of really taking the long way home, I opted out of the final “shortcut” and drove through the center of town. We waited in a couple long lines of traffic at a red light, we had several stop signs on our route, and I drove down the final small hill at about 10 miles per hour. I went about as far out of my way as I could, while still trying to get us home.
He wasn’t finished.
I turned slowly into our driveway, disheartened because he hadn’t finished.
I put the van in park.
And then I heard, “I’m DONE,” and I saw the biggest I’ll-show-you-all-my-teeth-because-I’m-so-happy-this-is-DONE grin!
Several months, 322 pages, a great historical fiction book – DONE!
I hope he always remembers how happy he felt to have finished this book. I hope he feels pride in his effort, and that maybe, just maybe, he actually will remember some of what he read!
And though he won’t ever really know why he was successful at completing the book on this day, I will know.
I’ll know that it’s because I took the long way home today.