In Kindergarten, my first taste of reading came from tediously going through each page of the phonics textbook. Every night, my mom (who is ever patient by the way, and reads my blog so Hi Mom! *waves*) would help me sound off each syllable ba, be, bi, bo, bu. Followed by the list of sample words underneath it: bat, barometer, barrista, and er…batman? Okay, I’m sure they were simpler, more age-appropriate words but it’s been years since I was five and I just woke up, alright?
Anyway, it was grueling. I’m not kidding. Each page was covered with words and more words. This was work, people. No goofing around the -ghts and the -ings. It was a memory test, a drill to get those sight words embedded into the soft, mushy part of your head that is your brain. (I told you my mom was patient.)
I’m sure I cried, protested, feigned sleep a dozen times to get out of it. The only consolation I got was from the little snippets of stories included after rows and rows of gag-inducing words. I remember vividly this one about the milk maid who was off to town to sell the bucket of milk sitting atop her head. While she’s walking, she’s dreaming of what she can do once she gets money for it. First, she’d buy an egg, which would turn into a hen. The hen will lay her more eggs, which she will sell so she can get a cow. The money that she gets from the eggs and the milk will be enough to buy herself a dress. She would then go to town and dance, and a handsome young man will ask her to be his partner. She would tilt her head and curtsey like so and…down went the bucket of milk she had on top of her head. No milk, no egg; no egg, no hen; no hen, no eggs, no cow; no cow, no milk, no dress.
So before I became a writer, I was a reader. Still am. Reading is easy. Reading is fun. But writing can be a grueling, tedious endeavor, and it is sometimes easier to dream like the milk maid. We sit down to write and muse on dreams of grandeur, of seeing ourselves signing books like a rockstar, maybe even throw in some fame and fortune (and a brand new car!) while we’re fantasizing. Daydreams take a chunk off your time and imagination, just so you know. Before you know it, the kids are awake and demanding to be fed; the house is a pigsty; the chore list is three miles long; and hey, what is that strange-looking stain on the carpet, and down goes the bucket of milk atop your head.
Still, I write and keep on writing. ‘Cause I know if I’m patient enough, if I can endure the ultimate phonics test while only five, I can turn that bucket of milk into a dress.