Reading is awesome! My kids read street signs, menus, game instructions, homework directions, and, on rare but exciting occasions, books. Reading allows them to explore their curiosities and learn about the world in which they live with a new sense of enthusiasm and independence. It’s a developmental milestone that makes me feel as proud as when they learned to wipe their own butts! But there’s a downside. There’s always a downside.
1. You can’t speak in code anymore. The good old days of speaking freely in front of your kid about your kid, as in “We can’t play after school because we’re going to the d-e-n-t-i-s-t” or, “He’s getting a s-h-o-t,” are over. With literacy comes spelling skills!
2. You can’t watch the news. The world is a f-u-c-k-i-n-g scary place, and your kid’s newfound ability to read makes keeping up with current events – even on mute – a difficult proposition. A passing glance at the news ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen broadcasting hideous updates like “school shooting kills 9 and injures 12” or “pilot downs plane that kills 150” elicits the kind of questions that will make you wish you could explain something as uncomplicated as “Where do babies come from?”
3. You will become a liar, albeit a creative one. Imagine, if you will, a leisurely afternoon drive on which you pass an – ahem – adult establishment on the side of the highway. It’s no big deal (besides, you know, prostitution and sex trafficking and stuff) until your new little reader takes note and asks, “Mommy, what’s the Booby Trap?”
Me: Um… “It’s like one of those indoor play places with bounce houses and laser tag.”
Kid: “What do you do at the Booby Trap?”
Me: Um… “You team up with other kids and search for hidden booby traps. Like in Home Alone. You earn tickets for each one you find and win prizes.”
Kid: “Can I have my birthday party at the Booby Trap?”
Me: Um… “We’ll see.”
4. You will have less privacy (if that’s even possible). Motherhood is nothing but a debilitating series of events that chip away at your privacy and personal space. First, it’s your body. Then, it’s your bathroom and bed. The grand finale is your phone, and there is nothing more irritating than your kid reading your incoming texts out loud while waiting in line at the bank.
Kid: “Mommy, you got a text from Anne.”
Me: “Give me my phone.”
Kid: “It says, ‘I can meet for coffee after my wax.’”
Me: “Give me my phone.”
Kid: “What’s a wax?”
Me: “GIVE ME MY PHONE!”
5. You will have to watch your back. As if commandeering your personal communication isn’t annoying enough, you will very likely discover your kid peering over your shoulder at your computer screen while you edit an essay on your personal blog about all the reasons it s-u-c-k-s that he can read. From that point on, he will refuse to call you Mommy and only refer to you – at home and in public – by your blog’s moniker, The Runaway Mama.
“I’m thirsty, Runaway Mama!”
“I’m hungry, Runaway Mama!”
“I am NOT taking a bath, Runaway Mama!”
Reading is awesome.