It’s all about perspective. Part 2: Total recall.
If you missed part 1 of my perspective series, then I will get you up to speed by summarising:
It may be age, it may be personality, but suffice to say, my 7 year old and I often see the same thing from very different perspectives.
The second incident in this series came courtesy of the library’s summer reading challenge: that lovely annual event designed to encourage young readers to keep up their reading over the long, lazy summer holidays. Both my children had signed up with enthusiasm on a trip to the library with their father and had returned home to regale me with a full list of the criteria for successful completion of the challenge. As they began to work their way through their library haul and record their chosen reading material in their booklets however, a thorny issue emerged that was to cause Faith sleepless nights and the rest of us, significantly troubled days: the requirement to remember what you have read.
To complete the challenge, young readers needed to read their books and then trot back to the library, tell the nominated library representative all about the book they had read and then get a sticker for each completed tome. Faith however, was highly concerned about her recall skills and was in a near constant state of panic that she wouldn’t be able to tell the librarian what the book was about. In her mind, the library would take a very dim view of her efforts and she would subsequently fail the reading challenge and be relegated to a position of unworthy onlooker when her sister collected her certificate of completion in September.
Now you know, and I know, that the goal of the library in setting the reading challenge is not to cause overly-anxious 7 year olds to spend 6 weeks swotting, planning and revising for the mother of all tests, but try telling an anxious 7 year old this and see how far you get. Many, many hours were spent attempting to persuade Faith to believe that a sentence or two briefly summarising the basic essence of the book was all that was required and in actual fact, they wouldn’t even mind if she didn’t remember any of it, but our words fell on deaf ears. She had heard the instructions and nothing would dissuade her from the belief that she must know each book inside out if she was to complete this mighty challenge.
And thus, it has been a familiar sight over the last 3 weeks to find Faith sitting cross-legged in her room meticulously copying key sentences from her current ‘Beast Quest’ adventure on to paper ready for the dreaded recall test. Hours of time has been spent trying to find lost records and many tears have been shed on the journey until finally, last week, we headed to the library to check in with the Reading Challenge team.
As she stacked her three completed books, carefully placing her painstakingly crafted summary sheets between each layer, I couldn’t help but admire Faith’s determination. Her perspective on the Reading Challenge may have been somewhat different from mine (and indeed the library’s) but she hadn’t let the enormity of her revised challenge put her off: instead she had stepped up her game and met the challenge head on.
When she finally sat in front of the wonderful teenage Reading Challenge volunteer (who deserved huge respect herself for the professionalism and patience with which she performed her duties), and responded to the question “What was your favourite part of the story?” by unfolding her paper and reading out her summary, I could see the fleeting look of pride on her face. She had worried about remembering the story and she had found a solution. She could face the Reading Challenge without fear.
Perspective is a funny thing: so often it is difficult to see things from the other side when our perspective on things is so different. Sometimes that is funny and sometimes it is frustrating. This time though, I think I may have learnt something from my 7 year old reader: challenges are ours to interpret as we choose; the trick is to meet that challenge head on, whatever side we happen to come at it from.