Can I have a Toy Catalogue?

I remember when I was learning to read at primary school I had a set of books that were about two characters who seemed obsessed by going to the shops. Every week at primary school I had a new book where these two people either caught the bus or walked to town, so it did not surprise me when my son decided to learn to read using a new way.

Christmas has just passed and prior to that we had a mountain of toy catalogues from famous companies that my kids had collected. At Christmas time my sister would use a toilet roll and she would sit for hours writing her shopping list to Santa. I was always concerned for Santa as his credit card would need to have a credit limit that would make the national debt look tame!

It therefore wasn’t a shock when I came upstairs to find my son perched on his bed teaching himself to read using a toy catalogue! The shock for me came when some of the words he was reading he was getting right! These were soon followed by “Oh hello Daddy, I want one of these.” I must have dozed off as he was still perusing the catalogue much later, in fact much, much later, and he was now asking Mummy how to pronounce some words in it! I was a worried man as surely announcing to the primary school teacher on his first day that he could read using toy catalogues would lead to years of therapy.

My son seemed happy, and the toy catalogue seemed to give lasting pleasure for hours, but as time passed by my credit card was wilting, and my little girl would be helping my son to read the words he did not need to know, like ‘easy to order’ and ‘buy online’. I have always loved the fact my son could not read as I was able to read the stories at bedtime, and when we were out and about café ‘Open’ signs would magically turn to café ‘Closed’ ones. The trouble is now that my son has finished the first toy catalogue what ‘book’ do I follow it up with? Maybe the ‘gold star book’ to follow up would be my bank statements, as when I get paid they start happy but as the month gets to the end it has a sad, sad ending.

My son decided to progress his reading with a travel leaflet to a local attraction. They always use attractive pictures showing children having fun, to emotionally blackmail the parents. As far as I am concerned this is an entire lie. The parents will get robbed blind at the admission fee desk, when the kids will see the gift shop they will ask to buy shares in the company, followed by the children arriving and becoming bored within two minutes, and then having a melt down when they cannot go into the gift shop and buy everything they saw earlier. Lunch is a disappointment when the sandwich menu comes out and none of the various thousand flavours are yummy. When you find a compromise the kids then announce something in the sandwiches they cannot possibly eat, by the time you stripped the sandwich of all the ‘disgusting’ bits you are left with just two slices of bread and no filling. They then eat the bread, following by crisps, and make vomiting noises when fruit is offered. As you pull out your own drinks for the children that you sneaked in to save money, the kids announce they smell funny, but the ones in the gift shop are ok. By the end of the journey the gift shop owner is smiling whilst you are begging to go back to work and work overtime to cover the costs of the very expensive gift shop. Sorry son, you’ve read the leaflets so we don’t need to go now.

Who said learning to read was boring?