It seems like every time I turn around there is a new new development going on in our house.
My two kids are growing up by leaps and bounds right in front of my eyes and my brain is just barely able to keep up and process accordingly. The “problem” lies in the fact that every once in a while, a real show stopper of a development comes along and blows my mind; it forces me to take a step back and re-analyze everything I think I know about parenting.
Examples of this range from the first step, first word, and first solid food, but this time it is my 4-year-old starting to read.
For the record, he’s not reading like it’s second nature and rattling off words as if he is in a Micro Machines commercial, but he gets the concept, knows his sight words, and is now reading a beginner book to us every night. A great development for my child, a great experience for his parents, but also a complex challenge for us all.
The first tooth was a big milestone, and the second first tooth was potentially even cooler than the original, but I’m not sure if round two of anything will be quite like the shock that I’m experiencing right now. This might sound weird, but seeing him read, in a way, makes me feel like he is officially grown up.
The reason is that reading is such a monumental life skill. I’m literally watching him discover one of the main ways in which the world at large is going to communicate with him. Text books, directions, advertisements, warning labels, ingredient charts, websites, and more are all now becoming available to him.
Reading is a vehicle for learning; whatever his brain wants to absorb, it can now absorb.
This is all good and well for educational purposes, but how long before he starts to understand the words my wife and I spell out when we don’t want him knowing what we are saying?
“Honey, did you remember to move the E-L-F?”
“Elf? What about the elf, Daddy? Why did you say elf? Did he go back to the North Pole? Did you touch him? You can’t touch him. Daddy? Elf?”
“Honey, who does this K-I-D think he is?”
The reading thing becomes pretty scary when thinking about when he is older given that we live in the Internet age. This Leap Frog toy he has already knows his name and will track his learning progress online, so I can’t even imagine what they will have in five years. Will his bike have WiFi capabilities? Will his skateboard have a tablet mounted to the deck? Will his baseball glove track ground balls and fly outs digitally and have analysis chart printed out by the time we get home?
I’ve written before about the importance of parents embracing (and learning) current technology because of this unbridled information stream that is seemingly available to us, and our children, at every turn. Watching my boy learn to read only strengthens my view on this topic.
But I’m going to relax and enjoy this phase for now and cross the “Can someone please tell me where to find the parental control switch for the Internet?” phase when it comes.
For now, my kid can read and is going to read a book to me tonight.
So, if you don’t mind excusing me for a minute, I’m going to hit the pause button on life and enjoy this awesome development.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 12/17/11.