Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My child is not his age, and that is OK
"Can you help? I need a purple book, my son's obsessed with purple." That's me talking to the nice lady at Barnes & Noble over the weekend. I'd gone there to return some SpongeBob SquarePants books Dave had bought Sabrina, because I think SpongeBob is taking over her brain. Instead, I got her a book in the Charlie and Lola series, I Will Not Ever Eat A Tomato (these books are adorable!), and then I wanted a good, purple book for Max, as I am his purple enabler.
"How about Harold and The Purple Crayon?" she says.
"Well, I know this is for girls, but what about Purplelicious?"
"Lily and The Plastic Purple Purse?"
I didn't even bother to mention that we had a copy of I Love You The Purplest, signed by the author herself.
I spot a book with a purple cover in a display case, Jungle In My Bedroom. You push a button to make a light pop up on every page. It's adorable, and it's got lots of PURPLE, but it says "For ages 3 and up." Suddenly, I'm a little stuck. Max is 7. Chronologically, he's too old for this book. Developmentally, he is not.
ARGH. I sometimes feel stumped when I'm confronted with age-appropriate numbers such as this. Actually, they used to freak me out. I spent most of Max's early years obsessed with whether or not he was doing things that were "right" for his age, and it brought me nothing but anxiety and heartache. I long ago tossed the child-rearing books and quit subscribing to the "Your Child Now" updates, yet the "For ages ___ and up" lines on books and games still give me pause. I wish there were a more inclusive way to describe a book's relevancy to a child, but these are the standards. And I can choose to pay attention, or I can ignore them.
It doesn't take me long to decide: Reading anything to Max that will engage him is age-appropriate.
I get the book. Max liked it. He laughed. He listened to every word.
All right, that's it: To hell with the numbers.