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I’m a worrier by nature. I don’t know whether being responsible for Alfie’s education make that better or worse, but I worry. 

Mainly I worry about the subjects that he doesn’t enjoy, like reading and writing.

And yeah, I have faith in the process, but what if he's the exception to the rule? Writing isn’t one of those things that you can get very far in life without, it kinda limits your options when you don’t have at least a basic grasp of your mother tongue. 

I once did work as a PA and reviewed a CV of someone who couldn’t spell their own address (they wrote Bowmantlees instead of Beaumont Leys) which sort of blows my mind because this was someone who claimed to have a driving license in the days before Sat Nav was even a thing. How the hell did they find their way home?!? Did they drive aimlessly around the Midlands until they found something they recognised? What happened at night? Did they just park up until it was light enough to identify local landmarks? Or did they drive along with their head out of the window navigating by the stars?

Travel issues aside, people are going to judge you for that kind of thing … and not in a good way. Nobody looks at someone who can’t spell their own address with admiration. It’s sort of an unspoken rule of society that you should be able to write at least well enough for Google to have a crack at understanding you. 

So yeah, I worry about Alfie becoming the kid that Google forgot. 

It’s not that I think he lacks ability, he just flat out gives no fucks about writing and reading for himself. He’ll write things like shopping lists when he wants to cook dinner, but his heart just isn’t in it, you can tell. Mainly because he tells you. Repeatedly. 

One day, probably while I was worrying about something else,  I got an email from a company telling me about their application called Teach your Monster to Read 

I must have been having an angry day because I misunderstood the reference to monsters. I thought it was some “funny” play on children being little monsters and filed the email under “what fuckery is THIS?!?!” only to realise some time later that I had made a big mistake and they were being entirely literal. 

As in, the game is about your child designing a monster and then teaching it to read. Which is entirely logical when you think about and/or you’re not a chronic over-reactor who shouldn’t judge children’s software so harshly just because you’re having a bad day, NaTAsha.

I opened the application and set up a profile for Alfie: I did it as quickly as I could and then backed out of the site with unholy speed before the bright colours and annoying sounds made me regret giving this monster lark a second chance.

That night, I unveiled the site to the children.

The next day I had to set up a profile for both Esme and Olive. Their own profiles, with their own monsters, wearing skirts and bows pleasethankyou.

The day after that I had to set up better security on my laptop to stop the children from logging onto the internet by themselves at 3am. 

Two days after that, I had to develop a rota system to save my laptop from being drawn and quartered.

The day after that I had to start confiscating my laptop between monster teaching sessions.

Now, I have resigned myself to coming home every night to smeary fingerprints on my screen and jam on my keyboard. Because monsters.

At least the children are learning. Between the fighting over who gets to learn. You hear that? My children are fighting over who's turn it is to learn. Even the one who previously had no fucks to give.

I've read blog posts like this before and rolled my eyes half way to my brain because please, do I look gullible enough to believe that a simple website is capable of making a reluctant child have some sort of learning epiphany?

No, I am not.

I am the lifelong sceptic who laughs at the very idea until she is forced to choke on the bittersweet taste of her own words as she's torn between celebrating a newly found passion in reading and mourning the rapid destruction of her laptop.

1 comment

  1. Brilliant post to read and I laughed so much - with sympathy for your laptop, but also thrilled you've found sometime that works. I'm forever seeking out new tools to help motivate my children and I'm off to check out this monster lark for myself now!

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