Hooked on Phonics, or When Three-Year-Olds Get Pissed
From early on, Boo has been a word boy. He’d stare at my mouth while I talked to him on the changing table. Mere months old, he was riveted. He was as close to hanging on every word as he could be. And who could blame him? I’m sure I was saying something particularly important as new moms typically do — And now we’re going to wipe your bum and get you all cleaned up and mommy is going to try not to gag too obviously — all in that sweet new mom voice. Not the obnoxious baby talk one. Just the sweet You are the best thing ever or so I’m telling myself in my sleep-deprived state kind of voice. That one.
He’d stare. And stare. At my mouth. Given my background and having studied linguistics and language acquisition, I loved it. And then he spoke his first word at nine months old: Up! And right around a year old (I think), his first sentence: Read the book! Yes, they were commands and all very intense and bossy-like. And then I was in trouble.
He’s been singing his ABCs for a long time now, recognizes his upper case and lower case letters (thank you, Super Why), and with the help of this toy, he’s pretty much got all of his phonics down.
Let me add, by the way, that this all comes from him. For his second Christmas (three months short of 2 years old), Santa brought him some Thomas trains. No interest. He also got crayons and a jumbo drawing pad…on which he had my husband and I making letters. A lot of letters. And then more. Like at 6 a.m. And especially the letter Q (no joke, I’m sure I have papers with Q written all over them), which factors into this story later. For real, he loves it all. On a side note, Thomas still doesn’t rate particularly highly; Dinosaur Train, however, is where it’s at.
So silly me, it seemed that the next obvious toy selection would be this LeapFrog one (we love little Scout).
Fun, my ass. Wrong, mommy, wrong! I have to say that the coolest thing about this toy is that one of the settings allows kids to make their own nonsensical words. Scout even says I like the sound of that! Totally encouraging illiteracy, but whatever, it’s neat.
But then. You knew it was coming, right? One day, Boo got pissed. You know why? Because he wanted to spell quail. Yup. Quail. Because every three-year-old wants to spell quail. Seriously, kid?! Cat? Dog? Dad? Mom?
So yeah, quail didn’t fit. And neither did his name. And neither did anything else he wanted to spell. Talk about fun gone awry. I’ve never seen a kid get so frustrated with a toy.
And I’ve realized — I’m an enabler. The books, the library, the reading, the writing letters on demand (bossy, I told you). Enable. Enable. Enable. Kid needs to detox. And he is a bit.
Except now he’s into numbers.