Why Work When You Can Do It For Me

james sleeping in the car
James: 12 years old.

James has been begging us to take him to the library so he can get a library card. That’s a good thing. I highly encourage reading and we have a rule in our house for the kids to read at least 45 minutes a day. Like most rules it gets skipped from time to time, but for the most part it tends to happen. I, personally, have not had a library card since the third grade. To put that into perspective, the last time I had a library card was probably the same time Goonies was playing in the theater. A few weeks ago I finally walked with James to the library and we both got library cards.

Yesterday James came home with 4-5 “scary” books. Ever since letting him watch “The Sixth Sense” a couple of months ago he now considers himself a fan of scary movies. Books on the subject seem like the next logical step. Yesterday was my day to watch Elliott and Coral’s day to work. Being a responsible father, I was watching Elliott pull wet wipes out of their box, haphazardly tossing them all over the living room while I ate a bowl of Trader Joe’s Crisp Rice Cereal on the couch. James sat next to me poring over his newly checked out cache of creepy books from the library.

“What does ‘genuine’ mean?” he asked, pronouncing it “jen-u-eyeing”.
Without saying a word I walked to our little book room, grabbed a big fat dictionary, walked back to the couch and said, “Look it up” as I dropped the book on the cushion next to him.
“Nevermind” he said.
“So, you don’t want to know what the word means if you have to do the work to find out?”
“I just don’t get why you can’t tell me.”
“If you want to learn something it’s going to stick more if you do the work to find the answer. Are you really so lazy you can’t take one minute to look up the definition of a word?”
We both knew the answer was yes. After all, this is a kid that’s too lazy to flush a toilet. I left the room shaking my head in disgust and disappointment.

When I returned some time later the dictionary I left next to James had mysteriously disappeared from the living room. Then James proudly held up, what appeared to be a pretty hefty book about an inch and a half thick, proclaiming that he was almost done reading it.

“What?” I said, “No way. That’s a very thick book.”
“Yeah, look.” And he showed me the last page. That’s when I noticed the pages were that pressed cardboard material and were close to an 1/8″ thick each. He had been reading a book about vampires that must have been written for five year olds. No wonder the dictionary was such a challenge.

When I questioned about the whereabouts of the dictionary I found out that after I left the room in disgust James did look up the word “genuine”. He even told me the definition of it. Good boy.

There is still hope.

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2 Responses to “Why Work When You Can Do It For Me“

  1. Lauren says:

    Please continue to try and encourage better reading material! There must be some good shark/lion attack stories to provide gruesome subject matter? When he was in P-town he was reading some scarey books and it caused major nightmares and a truly BAD attitude! I quickly retuned the scarey books when I noticed his demeanor going south… Waaaay south! Keep an eye on him! Some kids can handle those influences but in my opinion… Not that one.

  2. jeff says:

    it’s tough finding books for him to read. he has no interest in novels. i don’t think he grasps the concept that it’s ok to finish a book in one sitting. luckily, this time around there hasn’t been any nightmares, but we’ll keep on eye out. he turned all the scary books back in after one day, so they didn’t stick around for too long. thanks for the heads up!