Reading Levels

My wife finally submitted a written resignation from working as a substitute teacher after long ago retiring from full time teaching. She supports Pandemic protocols but having to wear a mask all day seemed to tip the balance. Besides she tutors our grandson Sebastian when he is not in school. She has worked diligently over the years trying to get his reading up to Fourth Grade level where he would qualify for a special college program. He is fairly high functioning but is stuck at Second Grade reading level. He keeps up with the news and understands simplified versions of the differences between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. He follows and roots for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners without understanding the fine points of the games. He laughs at the television shows like The Simpsons and The Office even though he cannot grasp the subtlety of all the humor. He keeps up with weather forecasts. He is a big picture guy, understanding simplified Executive Summaries. One notable exception over the years is his confusion over racial issues. I recently listened as he read my wife a simple storybook about Martin Luther King’s father being discriminated against because of the color of his skin. Sebastian still cannot understand even the simplest explanations. His own world is full of diversity based on the neighborhood where we happen to live. He knows we love the Seattle sports teams and hate the rival teams the same way their city roots against us. He knows why Batman’s foes are Bad Guys. But he cannot fathom why skin color generates atrocities that he sees on the news. And so I suddenly realized how much smarter he is than so many people who can read at a higher level than he can.


23 thoughts on “Reading Levels

  1. Next you’re going to tell me there was depth in Tom and Jerry that I missed… If he can truly differentiate between politicians, who beyond style are the same person, he needs a gig with one of the talking head news shows.

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    1. Yes, Tom represents the Seattle Mariners and Jerry is an animated World Series ring. Sebastian only understands the “simplified” differences between figures on television like Batman wearing a mask for safety while his adversaries do not. Politicians are indeed quite a bit alike to him as compared to, say, baseball players or teachers. I have a great deal of influence which I use to shamelessly promote myself. He is smart enough to laugh me off!

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      1. Those with less intimacy remain cartoons (in the case of politicians well they should) and those that matter more are differentiated. C’mon, no matter how hard the sell Papa is a thankless, but not altogether unrewarding gig!

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  2. What a beautiful post that touches me deeply on many levels: as a retired second-grade reading teacher; a mom of a son diagnosed with dyslexia by a neurologist (why I left my 20-year career in business to become a teacher at 45); and mom to a biracial son and only child. At 3 he asked why I was “brown” and “daddy is pinkish,” and “what does that make me?” I tried giving a preschool-appropriate explanation of “biracial.” Later, in line at a grocery store, my son excitedly yelled out, “Me know! Me beige-ish!” Children raised in an environment of love, tolerance, and acceptance don’t get racism and hate. That’s a beautiful thing. Bravo Sebastian, and family! ❤

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  3. What an attentive grandfather you are. I am so impressed. You can tell all these little details of your grandson. Many grandfathers would have been content with taking grandson out to a park, buy an ice cream, watch a movie. Or probably just I speak and children listen. You really pay attention to his mental development.

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