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DISCLAIMER: the teenager in this tragic story is the very same child who fell asleep almost every night when he was little with a book in his hands, even after I read to him for an hour or more. Some mornings I would find clear evidence that he dragged a big flashlight to bed so he could read illegally after I fell asleep.  This is the same child who would cry when I told him we couldn’t read his favorite book a FIFTH time because he had to go to bed. This is ALSO the teenager who picked up Dante’s Inferno this year because he felt like reading it. MY KID LOVES TO READ.

What I keep asking myself is, where did I go wrong here? (This comes shortly after wondering if one can start spanking when one’s child is almost 17)? School starts again in three weeks and there are two summer reading books sitting on my son’s shelf that have yet to be cracked open.

We have had TWO 6+ hour car rides in the last few weeks along with hours of blissful laziness on the beach and long naps in a hammock on the beach house porch. Not one page was turned. I have brought it up many times. He has been asked nicely to read, he has been told loudly to read and finally he has been threatened within an inch of his life to open those books!

There is some magical teenager-repelling forcefield that puts itself around a book when the words “summer reading” are uttered nearby. I finally put my foot down and forced him to start reading today. This was not an easy feat. It ended with me removing the battery of his phone and taking his laptop which lead to him calling me crazy. I mean, I may be crazy but there is no need to remind me of it.  Teenagers are SO good for their parents’ egos.

Summer reading lists are something I don’t agree with.  Maybe there should be a suggested list but my kid goes to one of the finest high schools in the country and works really hard all year long. A break should be a break. Summer should be ours to enjoy with no responsibilities.  We are responsible for teaching our children how to excel in school but we also need to teach them to savor life and relax.

I have no solution here. In the end I have to force him and he will hate me for it. Next summer, his last summer in high school, I think I may lock him in his room for 24 hours when school ends until he finishes his summer reading. We will just rip off that bandaid first thing and quickly.

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