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I think the most important skill that we can teach our children is to read. Once they can read and ultimately enjoy it, they will have the entire world at their fingertips. But I also think that too few schools insist on a reading list for the summer months, and the children who whine that they are bored do so because they don’t consider reading a viable pastime and of course, they are wrong. If you have a good book to read, you will never be bored.
But let me tell you about a little girl that I met this summer. One day I received a phone call from my old student, Sandee McPherson, asking if I would like to go out to “tea” with her and her granddaughter. And if possible, I should bring one of my granddaughters, too. Well, I certainly wanted to go but unfortunately both of my granddaughters were “off Cape.” We made plans anyway and all three of us, wearing hats and looking appropriate for a high tea, met at the Borsari Gallery and Tea Room in Dennis on the Cape.
Now I must tell you that this is one of my favorite places to go and I had taken both of my nine-year-old granddaughters there earlier in the summer for a bridal shower for my Sarah and her partner, Rene. I had been a little nervous about having the young girls join us but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. They not only joined us, they both were very well behaved and actually had a very good time. Needless to say, it was a whole new experience for them but one that brought out the best in each of them. I think that they loved the pots of hot tea, gorgeous tea cups and plates, and of course, the tiny tea sandwiches and pastries. And I know if they had been available they would have loved to join me, Sandee and Ashley for another grown-up luncheon/tea.
Sandee’s granddaughter Ashley was an amazing young lady of nine who is going into the fourth grade. Who would have thought that she would have actually enjoyed herself with two older ladies and no one her age. But I must tell you that I enjoyed myself more than I thought possible. Ashley was so mature and so “grown-up” that I spent the whole time being amazed at her ability and willingness to carry on interesting and informative conversations. And when I asked her what she was doing over the summer, she shared with us the information that she was reading several very good books and then she proceeded to tell us about what she was reading at the moment. I was amazed at her candor as well as her obvious enjoyment with what that she was reading. And oh, did I mention that she is also a student of ballet, plays several sports and helps take care of her twin brothers who are only 11 months younger? And I want you to know that there wasn’t an awkward moment throughout the entire time.
For me, this luncheon/tea with Sandee and Ashley was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend time with a 9 year old to whom I wasn’t related! And that I had such a good time wasn’t just the venue but the company. Ashley was interesting and willing to share herself with an old woman who she had never ever met before. She wasn’t awkward nor did she ignore either of us throughout our time together. What I did learn that afternoon was that there are still parents who raise their children to be interesting and polite when they are away from hearth and home. And not only that, they have taught their child to read and have made available to her books that she obviously enjoys and that teach her something. I did ask about video games and was thrilled to hear that although she can and does play now and then, she is not obsessed with them and plays only occasionally. Nope, for Ashley, books are a lot more interesting and take up more of her time.
If you get a chance, try and spend some quality time with a young person who is being raised in today’s world. And perhaps, you, too will be pleasantly surprised, at least I hope so. Although I am not saying that books are what make the child, they certainly don’t hurt!
And I must tell you how wonderful it is to spend such quality time with such a terrific young girl. She must make her parents so proud! I know she does her grandmother.
To comment, read other columns or learn more about George’s novel, “The Smoke and Mirrors Effect,” visit George’s World at http://vtpenner.blogspot.com/
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