Modern society puts a lot of pressure on parents to fast-track their kids into growing up. Everyday tasks are only impressive if they are done at a young age so the vibe out there is sort of: “Everybody out there with young children better get going on teaching reading, potty training, vocabulary, sports, and ‘second place is the first loser’. Pick it up already! My God, if we don’t have all these kids ready to out-learn China in the next century we might be forced into slavery under the communist’s rule. Red Blooded Americans Unite! I’m telling you if we don’t get these ABC’s learned by two years old, the terrorists have won.”
This is how marketing companies make me feel. If I bought into the hype I would believe that any child who learns the ABC’s early enough will be automatically accepted to an Ivy League school. The same with counting in a foreign language. All my Spanish counting knowledge has helped me with is realizing when Cinco De Mayo should be celebrated. I hope there is a checkbox on the application to point out these landmark accomplishments.
Maybe I need some professional kid teaching help? Look at this packaging it says everything you need to know. Baby+Photoshop Hat = Awesome!
We started hammering the alphabet with child One, determined to do things right. That had to include “Your Baby Can Read” because everyone who is anyone has a baby who can read, right? I don’t know if you have experienced this DVD series but I think my children needed the remedial course, “Your Baby Can Concentrate” or “Ooooh Shiny Colors” because they watched about 45 seconds of the first video. They can watch mindless kid shows like Spongebob all day but one round of the video was plenty. Also, I don’t know who those poser-ass kids were in the commercial or how long it must have taken to get them to memorize the queue cards but they are lies. Don’t show me some cute girl in thick glasses reading ‘War and Peace’ and make me feel like my three year old should be doing our taxes. This program is akin to a diet plan fine print, “Results Not Typical”. The best part about the whole thing is that the PhD behind it, Titzer, had his own difficulties with the program.
That was a bust so what should we do now? Oh wait…. Look at this! A fun website called “ABC Mouse” and it has real teachers in the commercial. I’m sold. There is curriculum and incentive programs so it has a better chance of holding attention. ABC Mouse is moderately better than pretending to teaching toddlers to read. Of course, my kids discover the non-learning activities like re-arranging a virtual hamster cage and repeatedly trying to hack the parent password until the iPad freezes. ABC Mouse has a cool reading section where the words are highlighted as it reads them aloud. The kids paid attention to it for a full half story before they resumed tearing the Baby-Can-Read flash cards into confetti.
Let’s all tell the truth here. The world gets a little less exciting for the parents once the kids can read. Doesn’t it? This painful light bulb of truth clicked on one afternoon. My wife and I enjoy funny T-shirts because that is the only hobby we can afford. My eldest daughter walks into our room and stares at her mother’s shirt quizzically while she sounds out the words, “Taaat, Thhhaat…. That’s What She Said.” I glance over at my wife and try to choke down a smile. “Mommy why does your shirt say That’s What She Said?”. Mommy answers with some fumbled response about women always being right so men need to remember who said something… I didn’t really hear the rest because I was in the closet… changing my shirt.
I can live with PG T-shirts maybe that will be the only issue. Wrong. Another area where reading isn’t so handy is the Direct TV channel guide. Randomly scrolling through the page down button and suddenly there are fifty channels in a row with titles like “Lesbian Love Lust” and “Hard Cock Farms.” Try to explain that with a six year old reading along… “I think it is about chickens honey, really firm chickens. And farms. Hey! Who wants to watch Dora!”
Don’t believe me? Check out the awesome titles I captured at a creepy 10:30 am. This was not a search or special menu, this was me hitting the Page Down button repeatedly like a child.
Personally, I was worried that Dirty Rotten MILF Lovers #4 would saturate the market but the people wanted more. One show is more of a description and why are so many of them series? I’m spending too much time on this. So yeah, no scrolling through the guide until you are at least thirty years old. I hope there is a way to remove these channels from even showing up. Moving on.
With a reading six or seven year old even innocent places and normal activities become a problem. Grocery tabloids are just another layer in the onion that we call literacy. “Mommy, what is ‘gay’?” “Mommy, what is sexy?” “Mommy, why did aliens kidnap Betty White?”
I want my children to have a love for reading but I don’t want the responsibility of censoring myself or screwing them up if I don’t. I long for the days of making up my own words to Dr. Seuss stories and texting dirty messages to my wife. Sooooo….
If you are the parents of a child who achieved literacy at a young age, that was probably a good decision. Good work. If you threw in the towel like we did, this post is for you. You’re welcome.
Underdaddy to the rescue.