I’m On an Island

So, Linda’s house for tutoring. Linda decided it was time for Delphine to have a formal reading test. Friday afternoon; Linda had just come from her work at college. It was all-work Linda too- hair up and no nonsense. Sigh.

Delph got nervous. I got nervous too. I listened to Delphine stumble through the text. We’d battled all day already. Not each other, but the work in hand. Now Delph had to answer Linda’s comprehension questions after the reading. It was hard to listen but it was harder for Delphine. Mathematical madness and now this.

‘How much is she reading?’

I stared back at Linda. ‘She reads every day.’

‘What does she read?’

I started to explain. She reads books she enjoys. This means they’re books for her age group. This also means they’re a bit hard for her. We pair-read a lot, more than we used to. Linda had ok’ed the pair-reading a while back – on the basis that if it keeps her reading then it’s good to go. And Dog Diaries is a great book!

Linda was right though. Delph’s reading has been slipping. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard it. She still reads the little words, but what’s been impacted is her ability to break down larger words. She’s never been that good at larger words. When she sees a word with more than one syllable, panic appears in her eyes like she’s being chased by a cheetah. Damn panic.

Delph’s first instinct is always to guess the word. Not within the context of the narrative either. It could be any word. I’m hoping in the future this will be a comedy flashback for us, like ‘Remember that day Delph when you read “deposit” as “depolish” so many times that I had to actually go lie down on the floor?’

Not so funny at Linda’s house right now. ‘Is she reading books where she can access 95% of the text?’


Linda nodded. ‘Where she can read 95% of the book without help.’

Oh yeah. I forgot about that.

‘Don’t get offended, but I think from now on, we need you Mum, not to be here during the tutoring.’

Really? I can go home? Wait. ‘How long for? An hour?’ I imagined cooking dinner. Walking the dog. ‘Two hours?’

She peered at me. ‘You’re not offended I hope?’

I looked into her concerned face. If Linda had told me she didn’t want me around a year ago, I might have been offended. Six months ago. Maybe even three. I used to feel, well, responsible. For all of it. Firstly Delph can’t read well and secondly I’m crap at teaching her. Then without knowing it, Linda cured me.

It was a few weeks ago. More of a light-touch kind of session that day. We’d been laughing in her kitchen until Linda said, ‘Delphine can’t respond to you in the same way she’d respond to a teacher. She just can’t for the simple fact that you’re her mother – not because of anything else. It’s just the relationship and dynamic you two have.’

It hit me like a brick. Ouch. I can’t capture her in some novel way I haven’t found yet. I can’t get her to listen like she might in a teacher/pupil scenario. I’m not her teacher. I’m her mother. Thank goodness. I’m on an island and Linda’s got the rowboat.

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