Monday, November 17, 2008

The Power of Writing, 5 Year-Old Style

So Mister and Sweetie were spending some quality time in their room on Saturday for writing on my computer screen. Yes, that's right. 5 and 3 and they wrote on the computer screen. In return, they lost computer privileges and all pencil and pen privileges for 2 weeks and they spent some time in their rooms thinking about it (a.k.a. allowing me to cool off a bit). 

After around 15 min of quality room time, I see that a note had been slid out from under the door of Mister's room, his first note ever to me, written with a little stub of black crayon he'd found in his drawer:

Translation:  Mom please (ples) lt (let) me get at (out) d d d (he couldn't write "dear" he said) mom, to mom

Did you know that most American people have a negative connotation of writing? Deborah Brandt conducted an extensive study about people's experiences with reading and writing (in her fabulous book Literacy in American Lives). She found that most people grew up with reading being a positive thing--mom and dad reading books at bedtime, getting books for presents, etc. But for most, writing was a negative thing--they'd been punished for writing on a wall or in a book, they'd gotten judged and graded by their writing prowess from an early age. A lot of literacy scholars say this is because writing has great power for changing power relations in an individual's life and in society. When you write, you speak out, you have a voice, you can effect change. The powers that be know this and try to control writing (oftentimes through schooling). 

So here's my son, playing this all out for me. I'd punished him (rightly so) for his writing. And now he's trying to use writing to change his situation. So I don't know what a good mom would do in this situation, but I did what any good literacy scholar would do. I let the boy out. Go, Mister! Write up a storm (just don't do it on my computer screen again!!)


Dena said...

I think his note was pretty sweet. It makes me sad that people think of writing negatively. So far, my kids love to write and I love watching them learn and grow. There is great power in words.

We also have had to work on appropriate places to write in the past. ;-)

Madsen Family said...

Well, let me say, smarty pants, that I still would have given him the good ol' time out for writing on my computer screen. I wonder who the powers-that-be are and when they're meeting to decide how to keep us lowly people down.....I guess that is why writing is so difficult for some people (I witnessed this first hand as a middle-school teacher--oh, the pain and anguish it was to read some of those kids' papers. Oh and the agony to get them to actually write). This post made me really think of how I will handle writing with my own son (and only you could turn writing on the computer screen to a literary debate...hee,hee). Very insightful, my friend, very insightful.

Amy said...

oh no!! How sweet he wrote you a note. Did you get the writing off your screen?

Tressa said...

I loved this post! You didn't tell me about the note. That is too sweet, really! We've had several "writing" or more like "coloring" issues at my house lately. I told you about Kylie writing on our computer screen just a little bit ago and getting it off with the Mr Clean Magic Eraser sponge. The latest was both Jacob and Kylie coloring with all the different crayons on the tile - that is why I only buy washable crayons. :)