Reading with my 5 year-old is kind of like playing password.
The sentence is… “Mac can tag Mag.”
“Okay,” I encourage. “Let’s sound it out. What’s the first letter?”
“M” He shouts with confidence.
“That’s right, and how does M sound?”
“Mmmmmm” He says, making a funny face.
“Great! Now what’s the next letter?”
“Mmmmm” he continues, totally amused with himself and the sound.
“Yes, yes.” I say semi-patiently. “But what’s the next letter?”
“Right again!” My boy grins like he just bought a vowel and got four. But that’s a different game.
“And the last letter?”
“C. Cacacacacaca” He automatically sounds out.
“So we have Mmmm, aaa and cacacaca.”
He listens to me intently and repeats, “Mmmmmmm aaaaa ccccc.”
“That’s right!!” I say, bouncing a little in my seat with excitement. “Now put it together.”
“Mmmmaaaaccccc. Cat!” He says triumphantly.
“Cat?” I ask, incredulous. “Cat? Where the..” But I have to stop myself and regain my mommy composure. “Uh, no. What does cat start with?”
“C!” He says.
“Right! And what’s the first letter here?”
“Right. And how does M go?”
“Mmmm” He says and starts with the silly face.
“Right again.” I say, ignoring the fact that he’s still mmmm-ing. “So let’s sound it out again. Mmmmmm aaaaaa ccccccc.. Say it with me.”
Together we say, “mmmm aaaaa ccccc” pulling it closer and closer together until we get…
“MAT!” He cries with happiness.
My face twists up in agony. “So close!” I say, gritting my teeth, “But the last letter is a C, remember? Not T. So it’s Maaaaaaaa…” I feed him the sounds and stare at him bug-eyed, nodding freakishly. He looks at me and then looks at the word, and then to me and back to the word.
Finally, with uncertainly he says, “Mac?”
“Yes!” I jump up and kiss his face. He smiles warily. I think he’s afraid of me.
I lean back in my chair and puff out in relief like we’ve just finished Homer’s Odyssey. Wow. We worked our way through it and got it!
Oh wait. I come down off my reader’s high, look at the book and sigh. There are still three more words on the page.
Gathering my strength, I return my attention to completing the sentence.
Mac can tag Mag.
“Okay. So we’ve got the first word.” I look at my son expectantly and point to it. He looks at me expectantly, eyes wide.
Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it. My brain whispers.
Oh my God. Pass!