Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Lesson in Preparenting from Danny

Experts will tell you that reading to your children, even at a young age, is beneficial for their development. They'll tell you it's important to read them books that will engage their senses- bright colors to catch their eye, fun textures for them to touch, and so on.

But there's something these "experts" won't tell you: it helps if your baby has been... you know... born.

Seriously, I tried following the advice of those who have been trained in early childhood development. For instance, I decided I wanted to read to Mary the other day and opted for Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? because of the variety of animals and colors. Should be a good learning experience for her, right?

Well, as I'm reading it, I can practically hear her complaints: Hey, Daddy, I'm really happy that the Brown Bear can see the Red Bird. That really is exciting. But there's one problem- I can't see anything! It's not like I've developed X-Ray Vision. I mean, I can sorta make out the lining of mommy's tummy, but even that's blurred by this sac of amniotic fluid I'm floating in.

Hey- Mary's gotta point.

You may also be thinking, "hey, those animal books with the fun textures will really help her explore new ways of learning!" Sure, and Mary's response will be something like this: Wow, a fluffy doggy. Too bad I can't reach through mommy's belly button and feel it for myself. But, hey, no worries, I figured out how to put my hand in my mouth a few weeks back. That'll tide me over until I'm born and can touch that big nasty beard on your face.

Touche, Mary, touche.

Here's what I learned. For children who are still in the womb, you can't rely on flashy colors and feathery ducklings. Nope, you need to to go with a book that is plot-driven. There needs to be an emphasis on action and character development.

For this, I recommend the classic Goodnight Moon. You get to follow the baby bunny through her nightly ritual of saying goodnight to the various objects in her great green room and the luminaries in the nighttime sky. As you're reading along, you keep wondering, "who will she say goodnight to next?" "Will she accidentally nod off before she's able to get to everyone?" "Will the quiet old lady whispering 'hush' finally get tired of the baby bunny saying goodnight and give her a spanking?" I defy you not to turn the page! You can't help it!

It's a tried and true method of story telling: let the tension build until you can't take it anymore before bringing about the plot resolution. Hey, there's a reason it's a classic. And after Mary's born, even though she'll already know the plot, there are wonderful illustrations to assist in the development of her senses. So I guess the "expert" advice isn't completely worthless.

1 comment:

Bruce and Morgan said...

Cracking up at this post're going to be a great father. Please keep us in the loop when this baby comes! We want to know even though we are waaaay across the seas.