My boy’s growing up and I don’t like some of it. I can live with the sudden desire not to be observed in the bathroom, the refusal to be kissed and the fact that he doesn’t support the same football team as me – but does he really have to stop me reading aloud to him at the age of eight?
I can remember those gorgeous days when he was a toddler, cuddled up on the sofa together surrounded by a dozen much-loved, mauled and chewed Hairy Maclary and Slinky Malinki books by the wondrous Lynley Dodd. Later there were the superbly comforting Alfie stories by Shirley Hughes (I defy anyone whose children match the older boy, younger girl set-up not to cry at the end of Annie Rose Is My Little Sister) and then the dizzily imaginative world of Roald Dahl.
But after he turned eight, the regular bedtime ritual began to change. Sure, we still make him read to us but more often than not, he’d then snatch the book away and disappear to his own room to get on with it by himself. Now six months later he never wants us to read to him … and I really miss it.
To make it worse, it’s the usual monkey see, monkey do – his younger sister, at six, is also starting to opt out sometimes. It’s not every night but perhaps half the week, she also rejects my chirpy ‘Shall I take over now?’ and heads off to read to herself.
A while back I heard a 10 year old on Stephen Fry’s English Delight explaining how crucial it is for parents to read to their children. If only they’d let me…