Thursday, April 2, 2009


Today the 3-year-old said to me, "Can you guys stop talking, please, I'm trying to do something here."

She was seated at the computer with her back to us, and she made the request without turning her head or taking her eyes off Clifford the Dog and friends.

We fell silent.

She clicked the mouse.

I think I've created a monster and she's not even mine. And yet, that's definitely my sentence structure.


Tom Manoff said...

Sounds like a kid with the right stuff. Does the computer help her reading skills? Does it interest her more than books?

gasket said...

She's hilarious. She's taken on a very sophisticated manner lately. Went directly from unsteady toddler to sure-footed grownup overnight; a brand-new identity. Who knows what went into that decision outside of physical development.

Her mom's a children's book editor, so there are hundreds of kids books in the house. She loves books, always has. More than her brother. She can't read on her own yet, but she sits down with books by herself and tries. Her older brother is just learning to read, and she clearly wants to catch up to him.

The computer programs help more with manual dexterity and basic object-identification skills. There's not much of a narrative; they don't make any sense as stories. More like exercises. I find them fairly bizarre—can't imagine writing copy for one—but they succeed at holding the kid's attention like a book does, which is saying a lot.

Neither kid prefers the computer to books. You can see it's a tool to them, but in its own right, not as a replacement.

TV is another matter. A scary-powerful drug. They want it constantly, like candy. But their time in front of all screens is strictly limited: Less than an hour a day.

Tom Manoff said...

Sound like a good situation for those kids. Books first, computers next, and TV last and regulated. We don't have kids, a decision of some complexity but also a relief for me. I'm so selfish with my time. My wife likes to say "you're so good with kids." I am for about an hour. And as long as they belong to someone else.

I would have a hard time restricting anything. I periodically dump myself into all kinds of nonsense. Started building an electric train world last year. A world I can control. Having been deprived by my mother of certain kinds of war things --during the Korean War --I periodically learn to fly some new jet on my computer, and kill everyone and everything in sight. Then it passes. I get bored with the jet. Now I'm thinking about an Xbox. I'm 64.

I think children's books are magic --the good ones. I tried to write one and found it impossible to shed the idea that it was for children. That seemed to affect the style. I was sure of the content.

Years back I wrote children's songs when I was a music councilor. Now I wish I'd copyrighted all of them. Maybe I'll do that.

If TV is scary, g, what about the internet?

Kids. You're lucky to have them around. Selfish as I am, I'm jealous. Especially for Christmas or any holiday you might celebrate. Milagro likes my trains though. She'd not signed on for the Xbox as yet.