Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reading frenzy

Kyle doesn't understand English. He doesn't have a long attention span. He has yet to see a cat, never mind one with a hat. So, naturally, the best way to torment our child is to read to him. It's not that we have anything against him; it's just a rite of passage: an age-old method of welcoming a person into life's ways by throwing something on him that is completely incomprehensible and forcing him to like it.

We actually began this torment before our little guy was even born. Our friends Colleen and Tim, who have a newborn of their own, gave us a book intended to be read "in utero." According to modern science, or in Seussian terms, sci-wizzama-boop, babies in utero can hear the book being read to them, and will recognize it after they're born. I don't think it worked, though. Every time we ask Kyle "do you remember this book?" and hold it up to his face, he just gives us a blank stare. At that point, we usually just give up and throw the book back into the pile.

Thanks to our friends and family, we have a good collection of post-utero books for Kyle to "enjoy." It's probably a good thing, though, that he doesn't understand them. I doubt he grasps the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and these books would give him a warped perspective on life. Kyle might grow up believing that bunnies live in houses, frogs can play mini-golf, and cats walk around with funny hats and red bow ties. I might have to read him a newspaper every now and then to keep him grounded. For if Kyle were to believe that a cow jumped over the moon, he should be told that the cow's DNA was probably genetically altered to give him the super strength to jump that high. Either that, or the cow's on anabolic steroids and should probably be given a urine test before it tries to enter any competition.

Most of the books we have contain two simple messages: we love you, and GO TO SLEEP!!! There are a few, though, that vary from those themes. One is called "Little Bunny on the Move," which is the closest thing we have to a suspense novel. Where is Little Bunny going? We don't find out until the end, and with each page the speculation grows. The book follows this bunny as he leaves the hillside, past the cows and sheep, and across the field. It's all cute at first, but shortly afterwards Jennifer and I became a little concerned about Little Bunny and his intentions. On the next page, he crosses over the railroad tracks, evidently going into the bad part of town. Then he sneaks through a fence. Then he ducks and weaves through a forest. Evidently Little Bunny doesn't want to be seen. Little Bunny is apparently up to some mischief, or could be finding his way to the Bunny Strip Club. Maybe he's sneaking away from Little Ms. Bunny to go drinking with his bunny buddies. As much as we would have loved to have seen a children's book stray from the usual format, we did start thinking, "Maybe we should have read this book through ourselves before reading it to our child."

Little Bunny, fortunately, does not end up going to a strip club... but the book ends without really addressing whether he gets sloshed with his buddies. I guess we'll just have to wait for the sequel to find out what really happened. By then, maybe Kyle will be able to understand books and might actually enjoy them. Either that, or he'll do what most of us do... and wait until the movie comes out.

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