My son is seven and has been struggling with learning to read and write. He’s a super bright kid, but honestly, I don’t think he really cared or was interested enough in writing and reading until recently. Even now he’s not all that interested, especially when at school they make him read boring books about families and apple picking. There are no explosions or blood anywhere in these stories. They’re BORING. Mostly he reads and writes now because he’s forced to. I try to breathe through it. I tell myself “One day, he will love reading. Just not yet.” Lately, though, he’s started writing little notes. If something is hard for him to say, he’ll write it down. I usually have to interpret it, but the notes include things like “I don’t know why I throw fits” and “I’m sorry, Mom” and other stuff to make me all weepy and proud like.
Recently, he played a game on the computer and wanted to show me what he’d accomplished. It’s a Dr. Seuss game and you get to write your own captions. The first picture shows the elephant from Horton Hears a Who talking to a skinny creature. Here is the story he wrote:
HORTON: I like to poop on me
SKINNY CREATURE: me to
The next picture shows the same characters looking very pleased. Here’s what he wrote:
HORTON: I like to pee on me
SKINNY CREATURE: me to
The next picture introduces a new character. Here it is:
My son showed me this looking proud and just a little bit mischievous. There was a moment where I had to make a decision. Should I punish him for the 'innappropriate' subject matter, or commend him for writing? It took me about a second to decide. See, there is a comedic narrative arc here. Horton and the Skinny Creature meet and Horton shares a secret interest. He is relieved to find that the Skinny Creature also shares that same secret interest. Then, the story amps up and they find they have even more in common! It’s so exciting! Then, the story takes a twist with a third character being introduced. Not only does this character also enjoy peeing, he enjoys peeing on basically every letter in the alphabet, and possibly every person on the planet. The end.
It’s sort of brilliant.
Okay. So maybe I’m reading into a bit much. I high-fived my son, told him to keep writing. And reminded him how to spell ‘fart’. You’ve got to engage their interests, right? I mean, he is only seven.