No P’s Please


Our daughter is right on the cusp learning to read. We have a couple of phonics and sight word games that she loves. When we read bedtime stories at night, she asks questions about the pictures, recognizes quite a few words on her own, and is quick to fill in the rhymes in Dr. Seuss stories.

She has figured out that there is great power in being able to read, and her fascination with words and language is keeping things interesting when we are out and about.

One of her favorite story time activities is “wrong reading”, where either Daddy or I get the story wrong as we read. For example, I might read: “Mother Gothel locked Rapunzel up in a tall flower.”

“Noooo. You can’t put someone in a flower.” She will giggle. “Tall tower.”

This activity helps keep the stories that we read over and over and over again a little fresher for my husband and me, which is a huge plus. The challenge of this activity is that I am expected to read the story wrong the same way every time. She can remember how I did it the first time. For me, well, let’s just say it’s a neural workout.

When we go out, she is constantly spelling the words she sees on signs and asking “What does that spell?” She is at the ready to yell “Mommy there’s a STOP SIGN!” at the top of her lungs from the back seat as soon as she spots a red octagon anywhere along the road. I’ll need new brake pads soon if this keeps up.

Anytime she sees a picture of a cigarette with a line through it, she turns to the nearest stranger and states emphatically: “No cigarette butts allowed.” I cringe, hoping that the stranger doesn’t misinterpret her and think that she is calling him a cigarette butt.

For her, learning is a big, fun adventure—a natural extension of childhood curiosity and play, which is what it should be. What she learns (or thinks she knows) is proclaimed with enthusiasm to any willing or captive audience.

She has begun weaving tales too, and the writer in me encourages this. As we drove home from grocery shopping this week, she announced that she had spotted a monster on the sidewalk.

“What does he look like?” I asked.

As she described her monster, I realized that she was scaring herself a bit.

“Does that monster have any underwear on?” I asked.

“No he doesn’t.”

“He doesn’t?! That monster forgot his underwear. What a silly monster.” And so went our conversation all the way home. We saw five monsters who forgot their underwear on the way home. One had six eyes, one had 99. One had no mouth. And finally, we encountered one giant monster, who was purple and did remember to wear his bright orange underwear. He gobbled all of the others up.

It is so much fun to journey along with her as she soaks in the world around her and tries to make sense of it.

On a recent drive, while we were sitting at a red light, she unexpectedly chimed from the backseat, “I know what that sign says.”

“What sign?” I asked.

“That sign on the right. No P’s.”

“No P’s?” my husband asked confused, scanning the road signs, billboards and business signs for anything that might possibly explain that interpretation.

Just as the traffic light turned green, I spotted it, a nondescript rectangular sign on the right side of the road.

I laughed “That’s exactly right. No P’s.”

My husband looked at me with an expression of incredulity. I mouthed to him “no parking”. He nodded.

“What do you think they have against P’s?” he asked our daughter.

“If you pee in the grass by the road, the road man will call the police and you will go to jail. No pees.” She answered confidently.

And these little piggies went “whee, whee, whee all the way home.”

© 2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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