Education, Parenting

Mean Friends And Pushing The Smarts


Written by Jeanne Martin



Q: Some of my friends are doing flash cards with their kids—addition and subtraction, as well as sight words. Their kids are two years old. My son’s three and I wonder if I too should be tutoring him in academics.


A: Flashcards? At age two? There’s a kid that’s gonna climb the clock tower and thin-out the crowd.


PUSHER parents. Aren’t they fun? They pressure their children to be all that the parents themselves never were. These are the same parents that will have their daughters enrolled in gymnastics, dance, tennis, swimming, guitar, French, cotillion, karate, and macramé …. before the age of five. They will push their children to play every sport, excel in every subject and be flawless. I don’t like these people. Quitters, loafers and lazybones … these are my people.


I miss the time when preschool was for learning how to sit in a chair and hold a pencil while attempting a left-handed nose exploration. A time for finger paints and glue eating. Nowadays they are learning algebra. Seriously. My son is in the first grade and he had a mini project on anthropomorphization. (I had to look up the spelling of that for this column… and the definition.)


We (as parents, as Americans, as Dr. Phil watchers) want our children to be more, more, more … victorious, thriving, triumphant. It saddens me that we put this type of pressure on our babies to be champions instead of letting them just have a carefree childhood. Who cares if they can’t add by the time they get into the first grade? They have a LIFETIME of education and only a very, very short time to be a slacker without being called one. Let them drink out of the sprinkler and fall asleep in front of Sponge Bob. Let them make mud pies and play XBox 360 for four straight days. You are not making your child smarter by force-feeding math facts before they can properly hold a fork.


So, flashcards: no. Coloring the garage floor purple: yes. The best thing that you can do for your child at that age educationally is just read to them. Read to them and let them experience the joys of sleeping in a tent in your bathroom. Unless of course you’d like your child to one day lead a police chase in a White Ford Bronco or wind up on Jerry Springer.

Q: I really don’t like my third-grade daughter’s best friend. She’s manipulative and, in my opinion, mean to my child. Is there any way I can “break up” their friendship?


A: Oh girl. There is nothing worse than the undesirable best-friend. My daughter too chose the Omen as her “best friend” from school in the third grade. My husband and I would rock, paper, scissors over who would have to deal with her tears and apocalyptic meltdowns every day after school when she became the emotional Titanic. This “best friend” made her feel horrible about herself and isolated her from her other friends. She was truly the bitchiest child I have ever met. I wanted to rub Purell all over her karma every time I saw her. Thank God she moved to another school district. She will likely grow up to be the go-to girl when the other convicts need a new prison shank.


Now, on to your problem friend … let’s call her Lizzy Borden. You cannot “breakup” your daughter and Lizzie by normal means, you’ll have to do it covertly. If she gets one whiff of your “dislike” Lizzie will become permanent wallpaper the likes of which David Blaine could not make disappear. No, no… this must be done sneakily. (You might ask your own mother for help here.) Subtle comments and massive redirection will take you a long way. Let’s practice.


“Mommy, Lizzie says she wants to sleep over tonight.” Ahem, “Oh shoot, we’re going to Kennebunkport on the Concord tonight with Gladys Knight and the one remaining Pipp. Maybe she could attack your self-esteem another time, like when network television has substance or our house is paid off?”


The good news is, your daughter will figure it out just like you did. We all grow up to learn who the evil ones are and they are usually the ones that are the most fun to sit by but you’d never loan your good shoes to. Am I right?


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