My 2-Year-Old is Teaching Me to Read

Every step along the way of this lovely journey of motherhood, GG has been my little guide. Teaching me to push past the hang ups I’ve spent three decades accumulating and find my best self. This week’s course: reading aloud in my second language, Hebrew.

Two years ago when he was born, my Hebrew was already decent. I could hold a conversation on basically anything, translate formal documents and watch full-length movies with ease. But reading aloud was always a struggle. There’s something about the process that just irks me – always has, since my first days of learning Hebrew as a kid. I hate feeling stupid – I guess everyone does – but sounding stupid is just so much worse. Even in university I would do everything possible to get out of reading aloud.

No such luck with a kid – especially one that loves books as much as this one. I tried for a while – “no, Mama doesn’t read in Hebrew,” “how about a book from the left-hand side of the shelf,” “ooo let’s read One Woolly Wombat!” … but he’s too smart for that crap. He knows what he wants and he wants it now. He’d give me this crushing are-you-kidding-me-I-heard-you-speaking-Hebrew-a-mile-a-minute-like-an-hour-ago-pick-up-the-book-woman look and eventually I realized, the game is up – time to get over this insecurity.

So the last few months I’ve just been going for it. Taking it slow when I need to, laughing at myself (usually I have company on that one – thanks boys!), and putting my ego aside enough to ask my husband to translate words I don’t know. At first I would only agree to read Hebrew books that I’d heard read a few times before, but lately even that is changing. I bought GG a new book the other day (it’s about a 3-year-old tractor who makes a funny noise when he “walks” – super cute) – and have read it to him dozens of times now without any help. And he loves it.

The knowledge that in GG’s eyes I am almost certainly not a stupid immigrant with a weird Australian accent has been the perfect catalyst to further develop my Hebrew – and hopefully save him some embarrassment down the line when his view of my perfection inevitably changes shape. Until then, I’m thankful for my little guru and these unexpected pockets of learning, these situations that shine a light on the things about myself that I can actually change – just by putting my ego aside and being with my kid.

Laughing with me or laughing at me?


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