Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tips on Answering {Awkward} Questions Once Your Child Can Read

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles

A couple weeks ago, I began my new blog series, called, "Mommy Cab Discussions" where I share talks that I have with my son in the car.  Some of those talks are funny while some are serious but they're always interesting and I constantly learn something new.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to have these talks during our small window of time among a usually chaotic day.  Today's Mommy Cab Discussion is meant to be on the humorous side since it's based on a recent discussion that was awkward but funny.  It actually originated from a "Daddy Cab Discussion"....all because my son can now read!

 "Inappropriate Signs"

Recently, after my husband returned home from dropping off our son to school, he told me about a question our son asked from reading a sign while looking out the car window.  This is something that I have been dreading since he began preschool and began learning the alphabet.  I knew it was bound to happen.

Our son is now in the first grade and his reading has improved.  On the drive to school, they stopped at a red light and our little boy began to read the signs of stores and restaurants around him.
He asked his daddy what one particular sign meant.  

“Daddy, what is that place?  I don’t understand.”

My husband glanced over to where my son was looking and pretended he had no clue.  

He said, “I don’t know, what place?”  

I am sure he was sweating by now and wished he did not have to be the one to deal with this question. Our son read the sign aloud.  

“It says, cold drinks and hot women.”  

My husband panicked and tried to quickly drive off just as the light turned green in order to avoid hearing our son read the rest of the sign.  Unfortunately, our son finished reading the sign.  

“It says, Flash Dancers."

Spelling Things Out Doesn't Work Anymore

I could not help but to laugh and reminded him that because of these types of situations, I did not mind it when our son could not yet read.  Now, we can no longer spell things out because he can decipher the code.  Things like, “I found this t-o-y online or do you want to take them to that p-a-r-t-y?  We need to get a s-i-t-t-e-r.  How about we take them to C-h-u-c-k E. tonight?  (Our short version of Chuck E. Cheese).  

We decided we have to text each other, wait until our son is not around or speak pig Latin until our son realizes how to interpret that, too.  

It has become an addiction for him to read Every. Little. Thing.  I am glad he is not awake right now or he would be over my shoulder reading this.

Mommy: Winning!

When I picked him up from school that week, we took the same route.  He must have remembered Daddy’s reaction from reading the sign and asked me about it to, too.

“Mommy, I can read that.  It says, ‘cold drinks and hot women.’  What’s that place?”  

I just said the first thing that came to my head.


“Oh, well, sometimes women get hot so they need cold drinks.”  

He must have been content with the answer because he went on to read other signs that did not need much explaining or realized he did not provoke the same reaction from me that he got from daddy.

Mommy: winning!  I will have to remember to always be armed with fast, reasonable answers because I am sure that will not be the last time he will read something that requires some discretion!

Tips on How to Answer Your Child’s Curious Questions Once He Can Read


  •  Avoid being around topics that you may not be comfortable explaining to your child as much as possible, whether that be through signs, books, magazines, newspapers, online articles, etc. 
  • Now that he can read, monitor what he has access to reading while he is at home to limit his exposure to topics that you do not want him to see.
  • Realistically, you cannot always avoid or prevent your child from reading the things that you don't want him to see.  When that happens, use your discretion to answer it openly or just as simply as you can without raising additional questions that may complicate your answer. 
  • Keep his reading interest on topics and books appropriate for his reading level.  Borrow plenty of books from the library and find activities and games online that are meant for his age and to help with his reading skills.  
  • Use your time in the car with your child to talk about kid-friendly topics and engage him with things that interest him to prevent him from looking at signs or places that may not be appropriate.  If you see something coming up that you do not want him to see, deter his eye contact from it by pointing out something else in the opposite direction.  Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road and drive safely!
  • Most importantly, remember that your child probably doesn't know that what he's reading is inappropriate unless you make a big deal out of it. 

Regardless of how inconvenient or uncomfortable my son’s reading skills make us, I am so proud of my son, of course, for being able to read and learn more words every day.   

The sign on that place currently reads, “We got rid of the ugly one.”  Hopefully, my son will not read that and ask me to explain it.  

Tweet: Tips on answering awkward questions once your child can read via @BNadyn #parenting Tips on answering awkward questions once your child can read via @BNadyn #parenting 
What are some uncomfortable signs or other things your child questioned you about once he or she knew how to read?

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