A GOP Briefing Room Exclusive
They say inspiration comes from anywhere. It is true. A comment by our respected (and usually respectable) mod, Rapunzel, set this train of thought off:Reading literature takes you to a place where you can dream of the possible...... reading dull manuals puts you to sleep and teaches you nothing.
Like most parents and grandparents, I walk the fine line. Teaching the kids useful skills and how things work without crushing their creativity and sense of wonder about this most amazing universe we share. It gets difficult at times. Throwing something into the air and watching it fall to the ground is an endless source of amusement to a one year old.
A Newton's Cradle is proof that Mommy or Daddy is a wizard, and is handy for enforcing bed times.
But, by the time they are three, they want to know why. Not only want to know, but demand to know. You are on the spot now. Your kid thinks you know absolutely everything about everything and trusts you completely when you explain things. Think work pressure is bad? Try the sad look on their little faces when you say those three words, terrifying to a child: "I don't know." It is a crisis of faith, worse than any monk or nun has suffered, since their all knowing God is right there in front of them. The person they rely on for food, tickles, silly songs at bath time, and to deal with the monsters under the bed is no longer perfect.
It's harsh. Tempting to put it off or brush it off. "You'll understand when you are older" has prompted more than one child to to invent a time machine out of a cardboard box
and various toys in order to get to the magic age where they understand all things.
You got a choice here. You can lie. You can study all night and work out how to explain infinity to a three year old. Or you can teach them magic.
Not this type
If you think about it, reading is a form of practical magic. Depending on the book you pick, a person's hopes, knowledge, dreams or nightmares is piped directly into your brain. No speaking needed. It is right there, their voice in your head from miles away and years past. Ink squiggles on pounded wood have the ability to whisper to you. Tell you things you never knew, take you places you have never seen, show you emotions you will hopefully never feel. You breath a sigh of relief. Your kid can read, and beyond asking what the odd word means, you are free and clear. No more worries about explaining things.
The "why" trickle just became a fire hose, blasting questions at you mercilessly. Kids don't have filters. The idea that the sun is a big ball of nuclear explosions and the idea there are sharks that can fly are both equally valid in their eyes. Sure, you can flat out tell them "This book is real, this book is for fun and not real." Do that, you may as well park them in front of the TV for all the good it will do.
One of the favorite games we have is to read something out loud. The person reading is terribly proud of themselves. Sometimes they stumble on the big words and get prompted with a quiet whisper, but everyone listens. It can be absolutely anything. A fairy tale, a local newspaper article, a chapter on grafting fruit trees - anything. Then the paper, pens and crayons come out. The only rule is it has to be related to what they just read or heard. It can be writing, drawings, blueprints. Whatever they want. Just to keep the balance between creativity and information alive.