Literacy Backfires! (or, if you teach your kids to walk, they will never sit still again)

I remember another mom telling me, as my 2 year-old ran around a bookstore shouting and waving her arms, “You know, you spend the first years teaching them to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives wishing they would sit down and shut up.”  

There is some serious truth there.

And now, I find it applies to literacy skills as well.

I have put a lot of thought, energy, and money into making certain that my kids are surrounded by books, love to read, and are strong and confident readers. I have spent countless hours working on fine motor skills, hand strength and spelling so that they can write well.  I am really proud of my little ones’ accomplishments.  I hate saying things like “stop eating apples and reading books – we need to get to bed!”  But sometimes, I just want to kick myself.  What was I thinking?

 Here’s a few of the times I kinda wish I’d just let them rot their brains with TV:

  1. This week, I walked out onto my driveway to find this:Image
  2. It’s 10pm and my eldest has math, science, and spelling tests in the morning.  She is still under her covers, reading a Magic School Bus chapter book. I take it away, but I know she’s got more hidden somewhere. 
  3. It’s 8:20am. We need to leave for school in 4 1/2 minutes. My 6- and 4-year-olds went upstairs to get dressed 20 minutes ago and instead have been lying around naked, reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late over and over again.
  4. I can no longer say things secretly to my husband by spelling them.  Or speaking Pig Latin.  Or IbEnglibish. (That’s a tricky one. You put an “ib” in front of every vowel. Long I sound.)
  5. Speaking of spelling: my 4-year-old stage-whispering at the grocery store, “Mommy, that lady is F-A-T.”
  6. My daughter can read all the texts my husband sent me.  She’d like to know what “monkey love” means.
  7. This petition:march 2014 014
  8. Screaming night terrors brought on by reading the Phantom Tollbooth or Harry Potter or whatever it was this week.
  9. “Mommy, why does this body wash say ‘not for intra-vaginal use?’ What does that mean?”  
  10. Pleas to “bend” the rules are now delivered in multiple formats (whined and written).

march 2014 012

Despite all these moments (and many more!  I didn’t even get to the book-in-the-toilet episode) it really is all worth it when I see things like this:

march 2014 015


Please, share your funny wish-I-hadn’t-taught-them-to-read moments with me in the comments.  I’m not alone here, right? 



14 thoughts on “Literacy Backfires! (or, if you teach your kids to walk, they will never sit still again)

  1. ha! Yeah my little does some of the same things – reading my email, texts messages, FB feed and I’m like, oh noes! I’m glad he’s such a good reader but as you so hilariously pointed out, sometimes it has its “moments.” X even wrote a story based on same lines as Five Little Pumpkins called Five Little cats Barfing. He’s especially proficient at spelling and writing “poop” and “pee” and “fart.”


  2. Prying books out of my exhausted 8-year old’s hands at night….getting “cards” from my daughter that say “STOOPID MOM”….oh yes, we’ve been there. The benefits of learning to read and write will be with them (and us) for a lifetime. (And if anyone publishes the Five Little Barfing Cats, I am SO buying that.)


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