Reconciling Differences



If you have been reading here any length of time then you know that we have a 6 year gap between our 2nd and 3rd daughters. We coined the term The Bigs and Littles when Ace, our 4th daughter joined the family. In essence we have one big family with two different dynamics.

I have already seen my oldest two learn to read and the journey was sweet, easy and educational for me. Aly loved to be read to and would sit for a very long time to listen to just about any book I read out loud. This includes chapter books with no pictures. Being an avid reader this was wonderful for me.

Then SiSi came along and she was a different child. She preferred picture books and would wail in agony when I would sit down to read aloud from “chapter books”. If it didn’t have pictures she wasn’t having it. She was also not really big into sitting still while I read. She didn’t want to look at the pictures and turn the pages like Aly did. She would put puzzles together while I read.  I was amazed that later, even though she had been occupied with something else, she could talk about what I had read.

Aly learned to read mostly from being read too and playing games. SiSi learned from being read too and from “Reading Made Easy” by Valerie Bendt. She asked for a reading curriculum and so that is the path we chose. She would go through several lessons in a sitting, leave it for a few weeks, come back to it and then one day we both realized that she was reading and we hadn’t even finished the entire book.

There were no tears (ok, a few in the kindergarten stage before I loosened up), no huge struggles, just us flowing at their pace in the ways that they learned best.


Then there are the littles. I don’t think I’ll make it through the process of them learning to read. Reading aloud to them makes me want to pull my hair out. Seriously, the act of sitting down to read to them is something that I really want to look forward too. In reality though, I am mentally running in the opposite direction shouting “SAVE ME! SAVE ME!” There are no tranquil moments of reading while the children are quiet beside you or at your feet. When I read to the littles it looks more like I am trying to wrangle chickens. I can’t get through a sentence without someone asking a question about the picture on the page. Someone is usually trying to turn the page before I am ready or I can’t see to read because they are practically on top of the book trying to see the pictures. Then you throw a 1yo into the mix who thinks that the ripping of pages is the coolest sound on earth and you have one very stressed out and disillusioned mommy.  

I was pining for the days of old, remembering how wonderful it was and wondering why in the world it wasn’t that way now and it dawned on me. When I had the bigs there were three years between the two of them. Not to mention that SiSi was very content to play next to us instead of be in the same space with us and the book.

With the littles I have a 4, 2, and 1yo that are all acting very normal in their development, all at the same time!!!! A 4yo should be curious and ask questions. If it was just her I know I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed. But it isn’t just her. Ace asks question too. She has no concept of sentences and the end of the page yet. Z thinks my lap belongs to only her so she constantly fights to remove her sisters from that space along with whatever book I happen to have there.

It is just different and I have a feeling that everything with the littles will be different. Closely spaced siblings are definitely a different dynamic than those that are spaced out.

I will have to be more creative, find different approaches to doing things and most definitely I will have to let go of preconceived ideas based on my past experiences and embrace the experiences that I get to have now in this moment.


Living and learning,





4 thoughts on “Reconciling Differences

  1. I love the sentiments behind this– and I so understand what you mean. My first born is five and a half years older than our middle, and there are three years between our middle and our youngest. While we haven’t broached the reading, really, with our four year old yet, I can already tell he will be so very different than our 10 year old was. Noah (my oldest) loved to hear stories being read aloud in any form, but detested the actual act of reading– and really couldn’t read much of anything– until he was what would be considered a third grader. The beautiful thing is, once I let go of my anxiety over what I thought he should be doing, he found a love of reading all on his own, and today there is rarely a moment when I catch him without a book in hand. Max, our middle born, is catching on to reading concepts without ever being taught anything, but I’m not sure he has the interest that will keep him reading once he does. We’ll see. One of the great (and flippin’ hard!) things about having more kids is realizing how different they all are, and reinventing my mothering to fit each ones’ needs….ps– so glad I found this space:)

  2. That picture is so adorable :)I’ve  never tried to read one book to all the kids at the same time…As for learning how to read, all of mine are unschooled and learned how to read when they were ready.

  3. @Red_Steph – Thanks! It’s one of my favs of the trio. I would love to be able to read to them seperately but I never have them seperately. It’s why I cringe when Emi asks me to read to her because I know the chaos will insue.It’s going to be cool to see how the littles learn to read;what their path will look like. Emi is “reading” with me as I read or she makes up stories to the pictures she sees. She has also started writing letters and asking us to show her how to write certain letters. She is all about letters right now. I’m not worried about them learning to read, I have two that have already gone that way in individual ways because you know we unschool too. I’m just worried about wether or not I am going to survive the journey! LOL 

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