Saturday, 22 September 2012

smallish rant

Just smallish mind. I don't like ranting.

but honestly.

I am used to the Pushy Parents of North London pushing inappropriate amounts of text on their children inappropriately young. I am plenty guilty of this myself, although I am trying to put myself through a 12 step recovery programme.

I am used to skulking in bookshops/libraries and hear parents tell their 4/5/6 year olds that they are not allowed to choose any more picture books 'because we have plenty of those, they're for very little children and you're reading chapter books now aren't you?'

But this week I was soaking up the thoroughly sophisticated and rarified atmosphere of Daunt books in chichi Marylebone High street when I eavesdropped on the following conversation between a mother and her pre-verbal, nappy wearing approximately 15 month old. They were both on the floor rifling through the board book section together.

"Now darling, we need some more lovely storybooks for you don't we? Which ones do you like? Let's have a look"
Child happily starts pulling out books and bringing them to his mother.
"Oh no! not those ones, those ones are for babies not big boys like you. Not those ones with touchy feely pages. We don't want books to play with- we want books to read! What about this one?"
(she pulled out the lovely 'Welcome to the Zoo' by Alison Jay and flicked through it)
"Oh no. It's got no words in it. That's no good is it? Although I suppose you do like pointing things out. But no. What else is there?"
Child again pulls out another book and brings it to her.
"No. I told you. Those are baby books. We don't want baby books any more. Choose something else."
He brings her another one.
"No. We are not getting any more baby books. We want proper stories don't we? Proper stories with lots of words. That one only has a few words see?"

and so it continued.

aaaaaargh (that's the rant part).

Not that I am anti reading stories of complexity to your very small toddler- but accept that you're doing it as much for you as for them! What upset me was the way he was showing her so very clearly what he was excited by and wanted to engage with and it was falling on deaf ears as she pursued her own agenda about 'advancing' him. Not to start on the huge list of incredibly profound books that have few or no words in them; this one for example.

I shouldn't judge, I'm sure I could have been observed making similar mistakes in the past. I'll stand up and say "My name is Polly Faber and I don't always listen to my children."

Still. It's reassuring to know that Central/West London mothers may be even pushier than the North London tribe.


  1. Sympathetic redoubled aaargh!
    That thing she said about we want 'lots of words' really got me too. If only that poor toddler's mum could see that the joy of dwelling within pictures, reading what's going on in them, is a perfect prelude to reading words and loving books!

    1. thank you for joining my virtual scream! yes. as I say I'm sure I've been guilty of similar crimes but it's both sad and idiotic. Maybe I should have little 12 step recovery programme cards made to discretely hand to these mothers when I meet them...