Sometime during the last 12 months it has happened. Both of our children at the same time, even though one is a tween and one is a teen. Both have stopped requesting stories at bed-time every night.
Enjoying reading bed-time stories has been a process for me. When I was pregnant with our first child, a friend lent me Mem Fox’s book “Reading Magic”. I admire this friend greatly, so I diligently read the book and followed Mem’s advice, which was to read your child 3 books a day from the day they are born. If you do this, it will greatly increase their ability to learn to read for themselves.
When the kids were preschoolers, I sometimes resented bed-time stories, because it was just one more thing I had to do before the kids went to sleep and I could finally have time to myself. But I was spurred on by parental responsibility and Mem Fox’s promise! And it was true. Our oldest was able to read before she started school, and our second-born was able to read soon after starting school.
Sometime in early primary school, Ben and I decided that after their 3 parent-read-stories, each of the children could do quiet reading for as long as they liked and when they were tired, they could turn their reading lights off and go to sleep. This worked really well to stop the children arguing for “one more story” or “one more cuddle”, but I believe it’s also given them both a love of reading.
We progressed from picture books to comics to chapter books, with many familiar titles that Australian Children love in this era – Hattie and the Fox, The Green Sheep, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the 13-Story Treehouse Series, Captain Underpants, Ahn Do’s Weirdo series, Asterix and Obelix, the Harry Potter series, and even some classic Roald Dahl stories. Occasionally they’ll still read some of their picture books. But they rarely request bedtime stories from mum or dad these days.
I am grateful that they are growing up and moving in ever-widening circles of independence, after all that’s a big part of our job as parents. But it’s a little sad - it tugs at my heart strings a little that they no longer depend on us to read stories to them. At the moment they are away for 11 days, at the Australian Scout Jamboree (www.AJ2019.com.au) which is an amazing experience for them, learning teamwork skills, resilience, and having a great time doing all sorts of activities. 11 days is a long time! They have never been away from us for that long before. The first couple of days were just weird, like something was missing from the house (which they were, of course). Then I felt really sad for a day, but then I started to appreciate the peace and quiet, the amount of jobs I could get done in their absence, and the extra time with my husband.
One day, the kids will fly the coop for good. Gosh I’m not ready yet, but I hope that I will be wise enough to let them go in stages, so that when they do move out, I’ll be ready to let go.