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Thursday, December 1, 2011



Parents have an obsession with making their children the best that they can be.  Pregnant women play classical music to their developing embryo in an attempt to give their child-to-be a head start in music ability and appreciation.  Every toy sold to children from new born to teen has some educational/developmental aspect.  Colors, numbers, letters, words, animals, sounds, textures, every toy tries to disguise learning with play.  When children do not use the toy for its intended educational purpose, parents jump right in to demonstrate the correct way to play and learn.

Children today have tutors to teach them to read before they reach kindergarten.   Children are taught karate and other martial arts in the name of self-esteem and self defense before they go to school.  Parents send their young athletes to sports trainers and sports facilities to gain an advantage over their budding young competition.  Parents today are panicked that they will not help their children to develop to their fullest potential.          

Parents please……RE-FUCKING-LAX!!

Your child will learn to read when he is good and ready.  She will be a natural athlete if she was born a natural athlete.  Your little genius will be a math whiz and will invent world altering stuff without your constant prodding and fretting their whole life.

If they ask for help, if they show an unusual talent, if they exhibit an aptitude in a given direction, help them.  Get them lessons.  Buy that guitar.  Embrace their talents, give them opportunities to grow in many directions, but don’t force them to do or learn stuff in competition with your niece, the kids around the block, or the children of the braggadocios annoying lady at church. 

Your children will find their niche.  Water will always seek its own level.  When pushed, children will drag their feet, they will shut down, and they will burn out. 

Given encouragement and a little help children will thrive.  You cannot hide genius.  If you locked a five year old Beethoven in a closet with a spoon, twelve glasses and a bottle of water he would emerge with a symphony.

What started this tirade was a commercial I have been seeing on late night TV.  It is the “Your Baby Can Read” commercial.  This scam asserts that with their flash cards and constant prodding you can teach a one or two year old child to read.  The ad shows dozens of kids all under three reading from the flash cards.  These children are reading, smiling, and laughing and the parents are beaming.  I knew this ad was bull crap when one of the two year olds read, with perfect word use inflection, the word “OUTSTANDING.” PAALEEZE!!

Your baby can be taught to mimic a word on a flash card.  Your baby CAN’T read. 

My dog can bark, roll over and play dead on command. 

Your baby CAN’T read.

You can guide your children, you can’t mold them.  They will learn to do shit when they are ready.  They need to build muscles and coordination in order to walk.  They need to learn sounds and experiment with them in order to talk.  They do these things on their own schedule.  You can retard growth; you cannot speed it up.  Children need tools, direction, and encouragement and they will learn.

You can spend your day with flash cards, videos, and books.  You can knock yourself out for months 24/7 with these flash cards.  Your baby may learn to say “Outstanding” when she sees that card.  She will say it with the exact inflection as you say it to her.  My Parrot can do the same thing.  My parrot can’t read.

Your baby CAN’T read!    


  1. Now you know, you MUST be wrong because I saw a blog the other day written by a 7 month old baby! ;)

    ps - I love that the word verification for this comment is 'slaturd' - I'm considering incorporating it into my vocabulary (hopefully no babies read my blog)

  2. I tell you Mr. Cranky you crack me the f*88 up on a daily basis. I live in the land of parents that love to push their kids to awful stress levels in order to be number 1 that is why our county has one of the highest suicide/alcohol/drug problem in the state. They will get to it when they are good and ready....Another awesome post :0)

  3. Hopped over from Mommy Bags. Love this post. I live in a college town full of stay at home moms with PhDs who are obsessed with making their kid the next baby Einstein (I probably spelled that wrong). My kid may be dumb as owl shit someday (total redneck roots right here), but he'll be happy.

  4. I feel like I'm always saying "thank you" or "Amen" to what you write here! Ok, not ALWAYS but 99.9% of the time, and this is one of them! I am a preschool teacher in Davis, "The Most Educated City" in the US (ok, 2nd most educated) and the parents here are unbelievable when it comes to this kind of crap. I look like a total slacker compared to them. I wish more parents would read this!!! I can't share it on FB 'cause then they'd see my disparaging comments about them :-)

  5. Love you and love your style Mr. Cranky! You got that shit right. My wee ones are not to be pushed, coddled or catered too. They don't even want help unless they ask for it. They will grow up just fine.

  6. As I was reading this, I was hoping that I wouldn't find words that described me. I'm safe. My attitude towards parenting would never be described as overachieving.

    Although I do admit to teaching my babies made-up sign language to get them through the toddler years, or should I say to get ME through the toddler years. Meet the Fockers' viewers may laugh, but I still stand by it. It saved our sanity. My kids had no tantrums, they saved them all up for their school years.

  7. you are a funny guy joe... and so right on... i love it!

  8. My child is currently competing at pissing on the potty, eating with formal silver wear. He is not allowed to play garbage man because he should broadden his horizons to become a doctor. He doesn't play with many of his toys with their intended uses. But, he is so creative to turn any toy into a tool or a tool for a garbage truck. Yesterday he asked his 2 year old counter part is she wanted to play doctor, that's my boy. A garbage man who knows how to play doctor. He is also a good landscaper and loves the drums and guitar. He can't swing a bat very well, nor is he that interested. In time he will throw like Nameth and hit like Mantle. He currently has no interest, ok, some interest. But he loves tools.

  9. Matt is raising a pair of Crankettes, so of course they are special!


  10. Newest follower from Lots of Lovin' Weekend Blog Hop! This post is absolutely hilarious because it is so true! Kids are even born yet and they are competing with each other in the womb! Kids are going to learn things when they are good and ready! Those commercials about teaching your baby to read with flash cards at 1 years old or less is ridiculous but the sad part is there are thousands of parents that believe it!

    I am so glad to find your blog! A breath of fresh air! Kids are Kids so let them be kids.

  11. Memorizing words doesn't work. I had to go that route with my daughter, who at the age of four was brain injured in an accident. Learning phonics was too hard for her at that time, so instead we taught her to read full words. At first it went well. She learned all the words she was shown. She could READ! But then I'd hand her a book and she would see the word "baboon" and would say "balloon" because she had never been shown the word baboon before, but she knew "balloon" and it looked the same.

    The balloon ran through the thick forest.

    The big, bright colorful baboon floated high up into the sky.

    Nope, memorizing words does not work in the long run. Once my daughter got a little older, we incorporated phonics into her reading program. And THAT is when she truly began to read.

  12. Im known as The Reading Whisperer for my work helping children read by 6. NOT because I want them to be little Einsteins but because if children arent reading by 7 there are dire consequences and I want them to have at least a chance in life. Even being able to work in MCDonalds and spend hours listening to the delightful children in the playground (yes, saw that post too lol) means being able to have basic literacy skills. Reading and spelling is something around 20 - 30% of all children will find incredibly hard (and why that number generally fails in every class) as they have such poor phonemic awareness (and MANY teachers dont know how to teach reading and spelling) So the teaching of reading is something that I dont want parents to think will happen naturally. If you put Einstein in a locked room with a book he wouldnt be able to learn to read on his own. HOWEVER I 100% support you rant about the Your Baby Can Read Program and what it stands for. It doesnt teach babies to read (no child who cant speak can read??) - its toddlers memorising whole words. Great party trick! And teaches them that this is what counts- impressing adults. Also that reading is memorising- which it ISNT!! They would not be able to differentiate between 'horse' and 'house' because they look at the shape,, not the sounds in the words.
    Thats what I do. I teach children to actually de-code - calling them Sound Pics instead of letters because most have already been confused by adults teaching letter names (grrr). Im basically giving children the skills to read and spell any unfamiliar word. As I said though NOT to necessarily help them become 'scholars' (although if thats what they want go for it) but because I DONT want them to end up in prison. In the US many prisons predict future intake based on year 3 and 4 reading scores. But- again- the YBCR program cant help them!!! I detest what is stands for- preying on parents who want the best for their kids and think this is it. Its NOT. However parents can do this properly - teach their kids to read and spell- for FREE- by following me (yes, little plug there lol)
    I wrote an article about the program and why it is under investigation by the federal trade commission- google 'Your Baby Can Read Program Under Investigation...' to read it. I make a more polite argument for why it sucks- I so wich I could write as you do:-) So I am now going to post this on the Read Australia facebook page so everyone can have a chuckle.
    Cranky old man- you rock!! (r o ck - 3 sound pics)
    Emma Hartnell-Baker
    The Reading Whisperer!

  13. sorry Cranky I totally agree with your post but I wanted to say a huge great hallelujah to Emma - The Reading whisperer....Working with 2 year olds as I did before my recent move I am fed up to the back teeth of advising parents to teach their child letter sounds not names and it is wonderful to actually hear that it frustrates someone else as much as it does me.

    It is fair to say that children are expected to recognize by sight a lot of words these days rather than read them, but there is no substitute for actually teaching your child to 'decode' or break down a word and learn the word by remembering the rules of English - it isn't rocket science, and it is so much better for the child than just teaching them to recognize their vocab rather than read it!

    Lou :-)

  14. Emma set a new record for the longest comment on the Cranky Old Man beating Katrina, the former record holder!!!

    I think she knows something, see her utube post:


  15. Aww shucks- a new record? Im so proud.
    Now where are my parents so I can get them to tell me how wonderful I am.................I dont know how to self-validate...

    You're so funny cranky. Il def be following your posts.

    And HI THERE Lou !!!- a kindred spirit. Thanks for your comments! People think I detest YBCR because Im some kind of hippy chick not wanting children to read early. Far from it! I too have worked with 2 year olds- as soon as they are talking Im in there playing with 'pictures' of those sounds!
    Yes- letter names drives me NUTS!!!! Infact I did another youtube video about it.

    Keep making us laugh Cranky- sometimes its what keeps us going!!!

    Em-) aka The RW

  16. So you're saying both your dog and your parrot are smarter than my baby?!? Why I ought a....!

  17. I'm a teacher of 12-year-olds, and I see some really stressed out, over-scheduled kids. I also see some kids who just play video games day and night and are pretty much ignored by their parents. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot.