September 9, 2008

The Hidden Danger of Teaching Your Child to Read

Everyone talks about how important it is to teach your children to read, but the dark underbelly of preschool phonics is rarely, if ever discussed. I learned the hard way that a child that can read Green Eggs and Ham also has the ability to sound out the four-letter words that are scrawled onto the backs of train and bus seats with a black Sharpie.

Last Saturday, my family escaped from the profane literary world of Philadelphia's public transportation system to the safety of the city's anatomy museum, a place where all of the exhibits' placards are written either in vocabularies too advanced for my three five year-olds, or in a language (Latin) completely foreign to them.

As it turns out, my efforts to prevent insurgent readership was unnecessary: my kids were far too busy examining the museum's treasures--including jars of fetuses with congenital abnormalities and wax molds of half-corroded faces, butts, and armpits caused by syphilis--to be bothered with the written material posted underneath or next to the displays.

While a vast collection of human skulls served as the museum's focal point, the real prize was a roomful of body parts floating in jars of formaldehyde. I was showing my sons a collection of noses when my daughter pointed to a jar containing a shriveled pickle.
"What's that?" she asked.
I read the placard and answered, "A severed finger."
I turned back to the nostrils, but not before my daughter screamed "Liar!" in my face.
"That's not a finger," she said authoritatively, gesturing to a 5x7 sign. "It's a penis. P-E-N-I-S."

Needless to say, all interest in facial cartilage instantly evaporated.

15 comments

Tara DeLeon said...

That is absolutely hilarious! Leave it to a child to speak the obvious...and probably very loudly... with an audience.

Likes Chocolate said...

Too funny, but I am sure you didn't find it funny at the time. Yes, it is so hard to protect our little ones.

Carrie said...

It's a whole new world when they start reading! It also means that you and your husband can no longer spell out words that you don't want your kids to hear! My husband and I have moved on to pig latin but even our oldest is starting to figure that out! Time for signing classes!

Marissa said...

Hilarious!
Once they learn to read you also can't hide things from them by spelling them out to your husband. Ugh.

Mrs. Morty said...

Oh dear, I suppose thats the risk you take when you go and educate your child. Nothing like being thoroughly embarrassed in public :)

Rachel said...

I love it....reminds me of when my little darling girl was about 2 and loudly yelled 'Mommy, what's an asshole?' in the middle of Walmart. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

Anonymous said...

If you get a chance, I highly recommend the "Bodies" exhibit wherever you encounter it....It is awesome cool but can't beat the severed finger

Amy said...

I think I'm going to be giggling about that ALL day!!! One of those glad it's you and not me moments!

Kent said...

Well, isn't this sort of thing somewhat to be expected when you take your children to an anatomy museum? Where are you going on your next pre-K field trip: the morgue? Let's face it, you are the mom who was dragging her children off to see the public executions in the medieval and early modern eras.

(Note to other readers: the above is to be read with jocularity.)

Stoker Family said...

you need to check out this blog. It is super funny, I know you will appreciate it.
http://thejollyporter.blogspot.com/

Nikki said...

I can't help it, but did you end up buying that lovely couple at Michaels?

D-D mom (no, that's NOT my bra size) said...

Hilarious. The other day my 21 month-old girl announced at the store that her penis hurt. Hmmm, I wonder who has brothers?!

Jana said...

The morgue...what a great idea! I'll have to call around and see if any in Philly offer tours.

And sadly, no Nikki, I have not purchased the lovely bride and groom from Michaels...yet. I went and visited them tonight though. They so want to come home with me...along with the family of animatronic deer that just got put out for the holidays.

You guys are so funny. I love hearing the stories about your own adventures in reading.

Kathryn said...

ROFLMAO!!

Ahhhhhh, just gotta love the honesty of kids, ja?

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Cool museum!

Did you go on to educate your boys about how those things end up in jars? It is a lesson all men should learn.