Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Learning to Read Isn't Beneficial

I was debating whether or not to write this cute little story because I was a tad bit afraid of offending. But, after some reflection (and a relating of the story to friends), I've decided to give it a whirl...because it's my life, heck it's probably your life too and truth be told, it was totally innocent and simply hilarious.

Our oldest son has been participating in a youth basketball league and his games are at a local high school on Saturdays. This particular Saturday Steve was working on his final so I piled all the kids in the car and we headed out. My parents decided to attend the game that day and as I pulled up, my Dad was already on the street corner looking for a breakfast burrito from the taco stand. After waving at him, I went down the street to find a parking place.

Now just to give you all a little background, this high school is smack dab in the middle of downtown, which to put it nicely is, ghetto. Some people might call it ghetto fabulous but I just call it ghetto. As I was pulling all the kids out of the car, I heard Caleb excitedly squeal, "Mommy, Mommy, I know what that says!"

I'm busy unbuckling Elle and making sure Joshy is touching the car and not running into the street so I don't quite get what he's saying. I'm doing the whole smiling and nodding while saying something like, "Good, good, yes!" And then my ears start to tune into what he was actually saying and I become very alarmed as I move closer.

"Mommy, mommy, that says __________(insert offensive expletive)! Look I read it! I can read that!" And on and on he went repeating the word over and over while my jaw is nearly hitting the cement. As I look up, I see a very naughty word written in bright pink letters, ever so clearly on the gym wall. As a beginning reader, he can sound out anything written phonetically quite beautifully and that particular word is simply easy to sound out. It "follows all the rules."

Meanwhile, a very helpful mom who is taking her son to the basketball game too, bursts into laughter and is practically peeing her pants watching this whole exchange. I have to think quickly. Caleb doesn't notice her laughter yet, as he is simply feeling quite smug at the new word he has read on the wall. But I know it won't be long.

I flash the lady a look practically pleading with my eyes for her to zip it! And then I dig deep into the recesses of my soul to pull out all of the acting that I know from years of leading roles in various plays and I paint on the most calm, serene face that I can find. I then respond, "Yes, Caleb you did read that word very well. Good job! Now let's go to Isaac's game. We don't want to be late."

And with that, he skipped off ahead of me, completely unaware of the hilarity and vulgarity that had just been exchanged. And I was able to breathe again. Meanwhile, the innocent bystander was still laughing.

I figured that if I didn't make it a big deal he'd forget all about it and it would just be another word he was able to read. But if I talked to him and pressed him about what a horrible word it was, I knew it would stick in his mind.

And I was right. He hasn't mentioned it since.

I have no theological allegories to draw or anything good to pull out as a lesson from this story. Truly, there's nothing really to say. Except that it was totally innocent, absolutely hilarious and an utterly classic mom moment. Who ever thought learning to read could be so treacherous?

And if anyone has any doubt or thinks that my life is drudgery being a mom of many children, just remember this story. In my little life here, I just never quite know what is coming next!