Back in elementary school I was put in a reading group. This group was built up as something cool where you got to check out extra books from the library and then come back and read your favorite part of the book to the group! I had arrived.
I vividly recall checking out the book that had that one and only Thanksgiving hit “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…” and thinking that I really made it because who gets to check out a holiday book from the school library around the actual holiday?!? Needless to say, this group and I were getting along swimmingly. When my parents were making dinner and could not read with me then my siblings would fill in the gap. I can vividly remember sitting on the loveseat with my brother John and having him help me trough the “tricky parts”.
So you can imagine my surprise years later when I mentioned this accelerated elementary AP reading group to my family and there being a bit of a snicker and an awkward pause, followed by the reveal to rival the very best ending of Fixer Upper: “That was not an accelerated reading group… That was a reading group for people who couldn’t figure out how to read.” Hmmmmmmmk ummmmmm, say what now? My siblings then sat with me with the same patience they had in helping me with my reading as they revealed that I had to be removed from class as my classmates continued to progress down their own literary road and I stumbled down my own alternate route.
I didn’t know whether to be appalled or downright impressed that they had labored so hard to make sure I didn’t feel abnormal and that I had in fact believed I had passed my peers on the road to glory. In the end, I’m grateful. It didn’t slow me down and helped instill an affection for the written word. Even now, every time I check out a book at the library I feel like the luckiest gal in town. This is an adventure, a journey, a gift of a voyage into someone’s story that I get to simply walk out with and enjoy.
Sometimes we falsely assess where we are on the road to learning. Sometimes we need to be pulled out of the game to work on a skill so that our entire playing history is not marked by the struggle. Sometimes we need to sit with patient people who have already mastered the skill we are struggling with and learn from them. And at times we need to break it down into the very next part. Maybe reading a whole book out loud in elementary school was too lofty a goal, so I was pulled out to help me sound out letters and see how they changed when grouped together. It really is no use loathing the baby steps when they are so effective when grouped together to form the whole of an effective learning experience.
What if instead of trying to win the game of who has the most stuff or is the best dressed or can make the most handmade goods we sought to be in the special reading group for the season we are in. Baby steps are zero attractive, but if we only represent the areas that we are nailing it in, we will miss out on the joy of reading and so much more. Come on out and grab some focused time digesting and seeking wisdom on the leg of the journey you find yourself on today. Seek to sit with patient people who have progressed beyond that stage, and remember to be available to those who are struggling with a level of the video game of life that you have already completed. Because what if the baby steps lead up to something beautiful that brings peace and joy? Then they’re worth it. Let’s sit a while and be patient with one another as we climb the steps together toward AP greatness.