Hey, mommy–what do these letters on my shirt spell?
What do you THINK they spell?
How am I supposed to know? I’m four.
Well, why don’t you tell me what the letters are.
But it’s upside-downside when I look at it. Can I take off my shirt?
Because the last time you took off your shirt, you ran around yelling, “Look at me, everybody! I’m Naked Man!” and then mommy had to have a very long talk with the assistant manager of that Wells Fargo bank branch.
(big sigh) Ohhhh. Kayyy. Let’s see…um, G? A? P?
Yeah, you’re right! Now why don’t you tell me the sounds those letters make so we can figure out what word they spell. Ready? What sound does “G” make?
Good! What sound does “A” make?
Wow, Jack! When did you learn how to do that? You are soooo smart! Seriously. I mean, I know Jeanne next door thinks that her son is gifted, but…Come. On. Last week the kid told me he thought potatoes grew on trees. Not exactly a Harvard-bound wizard, that one. But, as I like to say, Jack, the world will always need bartenders, so I’m sure that boy has a bright future as a mixologist somewhere in town. Anyway, I sooo can’t believe you already know your letter sounds! I just KNEW getting PBS in high-def was finally going to pay off for us. So the big news is, now that you’re sounding out words, you’re probably just a few months away from reading beginner books! And then chapter books! And then Hemingway! Well, the good Hemingway! And then, if you really, really apply yourself, you’ll be reading the Russians by kindergarten! How cool is that? Tolstoy, baby! Tol–stoy!
But before I get ahead of myself, I guess we’d better get back to reading your shirt, OK? So…let’s put all of those letter sounds together: Guh….Aaaa….Puh. Guh…Aaaa…Puh. Come on, do it with me.
Wow! Good job! GuhAaaPuh! Now, Jack, my genius little boy, tell mommy–what does your shirt say?
(long pause) Old Navy?
(sigh) OK, so there are two ways to make a margarita…