Monday, August 14, 2006

Phonics

When I was but a wee lass, I had not only never heard my parents utter a "bad word," I had never even heard that such things existed. How they managed to keep my brother who is six years older than I am from imparting this knowledge at some point is beyond me -- but like Ramona Quimby, I probably thought the word "guts" was about as bad as it got.

Then some graffiti "artist" decided to spray paint the side of one of the school buildings with the words "F*ck You!" And being very proud of my second grade ability to read all things, I read the words out loud. My friends were shocked. Apparently, I was the only innocent in the second grade who knew not of such things.

Every once in a while, I ponder the wisdom of having taught my son to read. He reads far too well for his own good and naturally, though he knows there are words out there that one should not say, like "butt" of course, he's still a bit sheltered from the greater world.

Last night we ate dinner with a young teenaged girl who wore a shirt emblazoned with the words, "Stop Checking Me Out!" across the chest. Had I been her aunt, I don't think I would have let her leave with that on, but her actual aunt, while not approving in the slightest, did not choose to fight that battle. And thus my six year old started asking what that meant. Did she want people to stop checking her out at the library like she was a library book? he wondered. Rather at a loss, my husband told him that he (my husband) would explain it to him when he was older, but that by the time he was old enough for the explanation, none would be necessary.

We left the restaurant well aware that we have two daughters and full of hope that when the time of their teenage years arrives that the styles will trend towards baggy sacks.

Today, again my son displayed his remarkable ability to sound out and read things clearly and distinctly. I'm not talking about our discussions of the finer points of the Euplocephalus, nor of the Pharoah Menes. When he was taking a shower at the Y after his swimming lesson he apparently (my husband was with him, not me) came across the following sign, "Sexually inappropriate conduct is prohibited." Naturally, he wanted to know what that meant.

We're perfectly ready to explain the usual birds and bees, which he refuses to ask about in any detail, although I've brought up the topic on occasion. I'm not ready to move on the questions about what's inappropriate when he is apparently not ready for the appropriate as of yet.

Thus, again I ask -- why did I ever teach that child to read?



7 comments:

Blair said...

Second grade huh? I did not learn that very same word until I was 12 years old... talk about sheltered.
It might have been a good time to talk about "bad touching" though, as that is sexually innapropriate and one never knows if, when or where it may happen (God forbid).

Frazier said...

That reminds me of one of my favorite stories about the Boy: When I came to visit and he was four, we went downtown to meet Justin for lunch and there was a beer distribution truck in the parking lot. The Boy read the side of the truck out loud and then asked me, "Aunt Mimi, what is Bud Light?" And I said, "Well, [*hrmm, hum, stutter, pause*] it's a drink." And the Boy said, "Is it a tasty drink?" (The Adam's terminology for sodas.) And I said, "Well, sort of. It's beer." Then his eyes lit up, and he said, "Oooh, that's my FAVORITE tasty drink!"
Jordana assured me he meant root beer, but whatever.

Jordana said...

Blair, Madison Rose Lane must have been one of the wilder elementary schools, if I encountered such words so much earlier than you -- or else you just missed all the curse words in the wilds of South America.
And Frazier -- he is rather fond of ginger beer too.

NBS said...

Too cute he thought it was an admonition about library books.
When we were children, my mom's phrase for us was "dirty names and dirty faces always appear in dirty places." Granted, that was before dirty things were written on t-shirts.
But even back then, this strategy didn't always go as planned, which is the risk you take when you say such things AND teach your children how to read before they start school. It lead to a memorable situation once at a Reds game, when my sister was allowed to go in a bathroom stall "all by herself." This was back when that was a new thing--not, you know, recently. But anyway, while in there, she apparently proclaimed, "Mommy, someone wrote her name in here. And her name is F*ck." Crowded room, peals of laugher. Etc. Etc.
So many bad words are disturbingly phonetic.
Oh, and I had extremly naive, over-potective parents too. My parents actually named one of my sisters so that her initials were FCK. It wasn't until the monogramed baby gifts started arriving that my mother realized she had made a tragic, tragic mistake.
Later we'd tease my sister that she had the best pick up line ever: "Hi. My initials are FCK. And all I need is u."

Mary said...

That is hilarious.
He sounds like a very smart boy!
Trust me, you have done a very good job shielding him so far.
I was in the car last night wondering why they bleep out the word "ass" from a song (not used in a sexual way) yet they let some of the musical pornography play.
( I am thinking of some of the hip hop songs that describe things in a very detailed way)
Kind of like wanting to ban nursing in public yet ogling celebrities who are practically nude in public.
Very weird.

Janis Gore said...

When I took Charlie to the vet a few weeks ago, a well-dressed and wizened woman came too close to the cage for my comfort.
She asked, "Does he cuss?"
My first mental response was "Hell, no!" But I said, "No, he doesn't." And he doesn't.
She said, "He would at my house."

dcrmom said...

Yeah, we've discovered we can no longer spell things when we don't want David to overhear. And I remember a similar situation to yours when I was a child. Evidently I was as sheltered as you, and in 1st grade a child in class spelled the "sh-word" and I sounded it out and said it aloud. I'd never heard it before, but I got in trouble, and I didn't even understand what I'd done wrong. I've never forgotten it.

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