10 Things That Surprisingly Suck When Your Kids Learn to Read

Image Source: Erin Matzkin
Image Source: Erin Matzkin

Don’t get me wrong — watching my children learn to read has been one of the most rewarding experiences of parenting. Seeing them grasp the basics of BOB books; helping them move on to Fly Guy and Elephant & Piggie, and eventually introducing them to my old friends Superfudge and Harry Potter … it’s all been a delight.

All that being said, having kids who read can create a few drawbacks in your day-to-day life. Here are some things I didn’t fully consider before helping them sound out all those words.

1. You can’t spell stuff out anymore.

One day, before I realized how good at reading my daughter had become, I (not-so-cleverly) said to my husband in front of her, “I heard that movie has a lot of S-E-X and V-I-O-L-E-N-C-E.”

Without missing a beat, my daughter brightly chimed in, “I know all about violins from music class … but what’s sex?”

2. You may need to hide certain household supplies, because they’ll start doing their own investigative research.

“Mom, what’s a tampon? And why do you need a whole box?”

3. It will expose them to new ideas. (AKA more stuff you have to do.)

My daughter recently told me, “Mommy, in Ballet Shoes, Nana irons the girls’ dresses before their audition. What does ‘iron’ mean?” And how about this gem from my son: “Mom, in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Peter’s mom makes dinner every night. Like, on the stove. Maybe you should try that.”

Or maybe we can keep on wearing wrinkled clothes and eating takeout, THANKS FOR NOTHING NOEL STREATFEILD AND JUDY BLUME.

 4. You’re going to have some conversations you maybe weren’t prepared to have yet.

One afternoon I pulled out a stack of old magazines to cut up for crafts. My son found an ad for the show Game of Thrones that said, “All Men Must Die.” He gasped and cried, “What does this mean, Mommy?”

So, thanks again for giving my 7-year-old an existential crisis, HBO.

5. Ingredient labels will give away all your attempts at sneaking nutritious foods into their diet.

I will never forget the appalled look on my daughter’s face when she realized the “apple juice” I’d been giving her for months was actually a drink filled with fruits and vegetables. She’s had nothing but milk and water ever since I betrayed her.

6. You’ll become hyper-aware of just how often the words “ass” and “damn” are used in all forms of marketing.

The movie Kick Ass in your Netflix queue. The “Damn, Daniel” meme keeps showing up in ads. The billboard for Badass Burgers seems to follow you wherever you go. Your child will laugh gleefully at every single one of these ads for years and years, guaranteed.

7. All your secret plans run the risk of being exposed.

My daughter, like all small children today, knows how to work an iPhone like a pro. Last week she grabbed my phone, unlocked it, and read an entire text string between myself and my husband discussing what we’re getting her for her birthday. Sigh.

8. … and thwarted.

My son read my iPhone calendar and discovered we’d hired a babysitter so we could go see Batman vs. Superman for a date night. He may never forgive us for this. His (fundamentally incorrect, but deeply held) belief is that if he can’t see R-rated movies, no one can.

9. … and used against you in embarrassing ways.

My son, still scrolling through my calendar: “Mom, what’s a [slowly, painfully sounded out] gy-no-co-lo-gist? Why are you going to see one next week?” (Maybe I should change the password on my phone, now that I’m thinking about it.)

I wanted this article to include 10 items, but currently my daughter is standing over my shoulder giving me dirty looks and disagreeing with me that it was bad of her to read my text messages. So I’m just going to wrap it up here, and possibly go refill my cup of coffee.

(“Mommy, the newspaper said it’s bad to drink too much coffee! Are you sure you should be having more?” There’s your tenth item. And we’re done here.)

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