They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
At this point, many of you readers have been with me for a couple of months now, and I haven’t shared too many personal stories with you. You may at this point be wondering, ‘Just what is Matt’s deal? What did his mother do to him?’ Either that, or you’re wondering, ‘How does he do it? Where does all this brilliance come from?’
Honestly, I’ve been wondering the same things. Both of them.
Then the other day I was digging through some old boxes which I was required to get out of my parents’ basement. Parents sure like to keep a bunch of stuff from their children’s growing up years, just to inconvenience them with it later. Makes me think of that legend about child-Jesus where he’s sculpting those clay birds. (This one isn’t in the Bible, but it is an actual written legend. It was written by some dude who wasn’t supposed to be writing a Bible. He got on Orpah’s book club, but then his memoir, er, Bible was revealed to be a big phony bunch of lies.)
The next item to be pulled out of the box was a few plain white sheets of paper, stapled together to fashion a book. The text on the pages was written unmistakably in my mother’s hand. She has very neat handwriting, being a teacher. She quit teaching for several years when I was born and I give her all the credit for the fact that I was reading at a very early age. She was a very loving and patient teacher to me and my brother.
The book she had written was titled, “The Rat Book.”
Though I had not read these pages in well over 20 years, I suddenly remembered The Rat Book, and could have recited all of its words by heart without looking at a single page.
The Rat Book had all the qualities of a classic children’s book. It employed simple words, repetition, and familiar and approachable characters. It was about myself, my brother Aaron, my Dad and Mom. With my wife looking on, I read the book, which took about 30 seconds with my reading abilities today, improved slightly over two-year-old Matthew. It only had two sentences on each page. It read thus:
The Rat Book
Is Dad a rat?
Yes, Dad is a rat.
Is Aaron a rat?
Yes, Aaron is a rat.
Is Matthew a rat?
Yes, Matthew is a rat.
Is Mom a rat?
No, Mom is not a rat.
Suddenly, upon reading these words, a rush of memories came to mind, and suddenly the path I took to become the person I am today was not so hazy.
Here’s to mothers teaching their children who they love how to read. What unique or memorable parenting techniques did your mother use on you?