Leapfrog and the Mommy Beast

I was more or less against the Leapfrog stuff. Let kids be kids. They will learn at their own pace. And those characters are kind of annoying. We had some of the infant toys, the ones that call your child back to they toy if she neglects it for 3 minutes (“Come play with me!”). They weren’t horrible. Better sound quality and less cloying music would be greatly appreciated, but they were fine and Clemmie kinda liked them. But I put those early ones away after they started to drive me insane, and as the kids get older the Leapfrog stuff becomes increasingly Educational, in a hit-you-over-the-head-with-an-alphabet sort of way. We send Clem to a Montessori and that is Not The Way It Is Done. We do not compare our children to others. She built a Roman arch out of blocks at school today. So what if she doesn’t know which one is the B?

So imagine that you felt this way, and then you were sitting in the living room watching your 3 year old daughter scribble her ten thousandth wavy line on her ten thousandth piece of paper and her best friend, almost exactly the same age as her, walks over to you and hands you a piece of paper with a textbook drawing of a kittycat face and the letters C – A -T neatly printed beneath it. I’m serious about the neatly printed part. The lines were straight, the proportions perfect; it was nicer than I could do right this minute. I wonder if you would have done what I did, which was to bark at her suspiciously “Where did you GET this?”

I’m looking around for the sorry-ass 12 year old who has to lurk around ghostwriting her doodles, when her mother comes to pick her up. I decide to confront her about The Problem. “Have you SEEN this? I think Isa may have DRAWN it.” I sound like I am talking about a disease. I am glancing uncomfortably at Wavy Lines #549, which only moments ago I thought was pure abstract genius. I am wondering how quickly I can hire a full-time tutor.

Katya waves her hand and says “Oh yeah, she does that now. It’s the Leapfrog stuff.” Oh, of course. Right. The Leapfrog stuff. “Isa is very visual. Clem is extremely verbal. Clemmie talks so much better than Isa.” Bless her heart, my friend Katya. Not that I cared in that way. Uh huh.

Well, Clemmie is very verbal; she talks a mile a minute and occasionally uses pretty big words for a three year old. My lizard brain is calming down a bit. It’s wonderful that Clemmie’s best friend is shockingly gifted (Perhaps it will rub off?) I return to my normal, non-judgmental, empowering, organic veggie-cooking mommy self. It is all okay. Kids are kids. Clem is in fact a genius in her own right. I should know; she argues with me like a 20 year old.

At Christmas I ask Clem what she would like Santa to bring her. She says she wants a ducky and a rainbow. I kid you not. How’s that for cute? (And innocent.) Santa brings her, well, tons of shit, but both things she asked for, though the rainbow was a bit down to the wire and came in the form of some modeling clay taken out of its package and bent into an arc (it is now full of dog hair and rather unattractive, sadly). Clem was delighted. Santa also brought her, unsolicited, two Leapfrog videos (The Letter Factory and The Word Factory) and one Leapfrog toy (The Word Whammer fridge magnet thing). She really likes them. Her mommy now thinks that a “variety of different kinds of toys are healthy.” She wonders if she herself is entirely healthy.

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