Yes, you read that correctly. I let my daughter bring an electronic device to the dinner table. And you know what? I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. (Okay, I admit, it's slightly less scandalous when I clarify that said device is neither iPad nor iPod, but her Kindle.)
I've managed to turn both of my children into voracious readers, and while my 8 year-old son still prefers for Mom to read to him, my daughter is a super independent reader. When she finds a book she loves, she hates to put it down. So on the occasions when she comes to the dinner table with Kindle in hand, I let her. Why?
Because my parents let me.
As a kid, I took my books everywhere. I read in my room, on the couch, outside, in the car, and at the dining room table. Sure, there were nights where my mom would smile and tell me I needed to put it down - just for a few minutes - to participate in conversation and, you know, actually look at what I was eating (something which I sometimes tell my daughter as well). But, more often than not, I only put my books down to shower, sleep, or do schoolwork.
I don't know about you, but I miss the days when I could just sit around and read, and the nights when I could snuggle up with a book until 2am and sleep in until 11 the next morning. I still bring my books to the table (but only for the occasional lunch-time read) and I'm no stranger to midnight (because JUST ONE MORE PAGE), but it comes with a little more guilt now. After all, there's so much that needs to be done in a day that I practically have to schedule reading time.
I'll forever be thankful that I grew up in a house where reading was encouraged, and where I wasn't often told to put my book down or turn my light off and go to bed (perks of being homeschooled). It's a huge part of the reason I'm a writer today. My love of words started early and was nurtured by parents who saw it as a good thing. Too soon my daughter will be dealing with the highs and lows of middle school. She'll have more responsibilities and more commitments. There will be friends and phone calls and boys and all sorts of other distractions. And one day, she might be a mom herself, who has to cook the dinner and dish up plates and she won't have the luxury of ignoring the rest of her family while she reads. But hopefully, through it all, books will still be a constant in her life.
So now, while she can, I'll gladly let her indulge in excessive amounts of reading, even at the dinner table.
Besides, she's reading Harry Potter. How do I tell her to put that down?