Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Defense of Illiteracy

Excited to teach your tots to read? Naively, so was I.

From my now-experienced perspective as a parent of precocious readers---please, I implore you, take your time. Slow the scholarly stride or ready yourself for the rigors of constant questioning.

Baby bookworms don’t simply sit with their button noses buried in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 or The Tale of Despereaux. Au contraire. The written word in its every manifestation presents an opportunity to demonstrate their growing mastery---and desire to comprehend the content.

Hooters billboards on the highway. Gossip in the grocery aisle. Not-so-suitable news tickers. Clothes emblazoned with cute characters paired with self-centered sentiments.

Perhaps I should be grateful for the spontaneous situations mandating maternal elaboration on life in our 21st century society, but truly, I’d hoped to save an education on erectile dysfunction ‘til at least 8.

It gets far worse…and far more challenging.

Despite my pro-life beliefs, (and utter revulsion at the recent murder of Dr. Tiller), I don’t appreciate the clinic protester holding aloft his boldly lettered “Abortion Kills Children” placard for my son---who happened to be aboard a school bus of kindergarteners returning from a field trip---to process on his way back to school.

Darren (then 5, with palpable panic in his voice): “Who kills children, Mommy?”

One would hope a passionate commitment to the unborn would translate to a logical respect for the impressionable freshly born…who just happen to be early readers. Apparently not. Thanks a lot, Condemnably Inconsiderate Man.

Email eavesreaders and backseat bloggers are now commonplace in our home. As a result? Facebook: Forbad. Never quite sure what status my funny friends might be sharing. Instant messenger? It’s the “instant” that prevents the editing of the inappropriate.

Maybe I’m too protective. Maybe I’m too prudish. Maybe, I’m a parent.
post signature


cat said...

Oh gosh girl, I haven't though about all of that!

Tracy said...

All of these things you don't think about until it occurs...good food for thought.

Terra said...

For a long time their was an old beat up van painted graphically parked on the way to school near a clinic. I had to choose a different route to school because my 6 year old just didn't need to see it. I had some explaining to do when she did, it was hard - it was not a lesson I wanted to teach when he had BARELY introduced the birds and bees...

Well written, thought provoking post!

MommyJ said...

I absolutely can relate! It's definitely a challenge to have readers that read well beyond their ability to comprehend.

My almost third grader reads more like a seventh or eighth grader. we've gotten to the point now where it's actually tough to find stuff that is difficult and engaging enough to keep him interested, but not so advanced in topic that it exposes him to too much!

Laughed out loud at the Hooters billboard. I had my kid ask once, "Mommy, what's an adult bookstore?"


Sara said...

Oh yes...not good, not good at all. We also had to discuss ED in our household. I know how you feel about Facebook also. I was typing a status update about being tired the other day and I realized my reader was standing behind me reading every word I typed!

Sotorrific Twins said...

hmmm...I don't think I ever want to have the erectile dysfunction talk with my kids. and I'm ok with that. :)

mommytoalot said...

Something I never thought of, however certainly leads to open ended discussions with our kids.

Threeundertwo said...

We've made rules about never reading over shoulders at our house. It's impolite with books, newspapers, magazines, and especially computer screens. As the kids get more involved online, they will need their privacy from each other. Mom, of course is the exception. I have all of their email passwords and my daughter asked me to friend her on Facebook. So far so good.

The anti-abortion vans and billboards are so awful! I too, take alternate streets to avoid them.

Rachael said...

isn't it overwhleming how much more you see once your children start seeing it?

Sharlene said...

The world certainly isn't what it used to be. It is almost impossible to keep a child innocent anymore. What happened to morals?

Zip n Tizzy said...

My kids have taken to asking, "what's that they said?" about everything they hear on the radio.

Sometimes I have to get very creative in my interpretations.

I hear ya!

Nancy said...

My vote is: You're a parent. And a damn good one. (hm, am I not supposed to write "damn"?)

I like ThreeUnderTwo's rule...might start that one over here before it's too late.

Great post - I wish all of the people who put those billboards up would read it.

Rebecca said...

You're a parent...hands down. I never thought of it this way...that's why I read your blog!

Laura said...

today I deleted a comment from a "friend."
(On Facebook)
Too many worlds collide over there..and though her comment was very funny, I didn't want some people to be offended.
I feel sorry for all of you mothers and your daily battle with media content.
When I was a lass...the only thing my dad really battled against was our Friday night attempts to watch Love American Style.
You're not a prude and you know it.
You've got sense.

Barbara Manatee said...

OMG...funny you bring this up - another friend's 6 year old was just going on about the 'negative influences' that her 3 year old twin brothers were facing b/c of this and that...too funny!

Another funny 'reading' note - this weekend, I took just Sarah with me on a trip to the store. While waiting to turn out of the parking lot, i hear her spell "H-O-U-S-E!" I could not believe she just spelled HOUSE! I was amazed and about to ask her what that spelled when I turned to see a "Steak House" sign next to us - she was just reading the letters - so not quite the child genius I first though she was...but still awesome that she got all the letters correct!

Kim H. said...

I am thoroughly disgusted by a billboard near our house for divorce attorneys -- the sign reads "when it doesn't stay in Vegas"....Eeeeewwww.

And I secretly hope my kids don't notice it -- cause you know they're gonna ask.

BoufMom9 said...

Oh boy have I been in that boat a few times. i can remember having Alex come to me with a newpaper article about tampons and wanting to know what it was for when he was 6 years old! Sheesh!

As for Facebook... yep. Almost as bad as MySpace. I don't ever have it open when my kids are around for exactly the reasons you described.

Missy said...

Cheryl, Great post! You made me think - I never thought of the things that they may read (and I working on reading right now with the girls.) I know that I am protective mom and proud of it. I feel it is my job as a parent. But prude - you definitely are not, my friend!

Barbara Manatee said...

I'm off to work already...can you link me in to WBW?

Dorinda said...

So far my oldest is the only reader and while I LOVE that she can sit and read a book cover to cover it does lead to interesting things. After all I enjoy reading and writing books on murder and mystery - how do you explain that to an 8-year-old??

You're definitely not prudish - there's no need that our kids need to know about everything in detail when they are so young!

Dana said...

Good Lord. I can feel Darren's fear as I read this. I had a similiar, but horrifying experience with an abortion protester that still affects me to this day! (especially when I held my newborn baby amongst crazy post partum emotions...)

I'll have to tell you someday.

Anonymous said...