Monday, October 22, 2012

Good-bye, Captain Underpants!

The wee ones love to read.  If they didn't, I'm sure I wouldn't be writing this post.  But they do.  They wake up in the morning and read.  They try to read at the breakfast table.  They bring books to read every time we get in the car.  And on it goes.

I've generally not really censored much of what they read.  I'll push Little Miss to get more Spanish language books from the library because she's supposed to read 30 minutes every night in Spanish and she whines about our selection that she's read "50 kajillion times, Mom!"  And I've recently had to pull Mister Man back from the Heroes of Olympus series that is not really meant for a just-turned-nine-year-old.  Beyond that, I've let them choose the books they're interested in.

They recently discovered Captain Underpants and Super Diaper Baby.  And those have been the majority of the books that have come home from both the school library and the public library.  I actually thought that I'd been blessed and we'd missed those books, but no.  And I've noticed a change.  The language has become (literally) very potty mouthed.  They talk about butts a lot.  Mister Man is discussing wedgie prowess.  And I gotta say, I'm not a fan.

They read some of the book out loud to me, and the tone is just not one I like.  I had already limited them to one Captain Underpants or Super Diaper Baby book at a time.  My mom laughs and tells me that I went through a potty fascination of my own.  Except I was four at the time.  When you're older, you apparently can get far more creative, and I'm just tired of it.  I limit the television and movies they watch, so why not the books, too?

Mister Man is currently reading The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.  It isn't like taking the series away will dampen their interest in reading.  They are constantly quoting or reading a portion of a book to me.  The "all reading is good reading" theory only goes so far with me.  And in our case, those books are gone after today.  The final straw was finding Little Miss's notebook filled with alternate - potty mouth - names for family and friends.

Reading Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants

There was one small pearl that came from this.  The other day, Little Miss turned to me...

Mom, what does turd mean? she asked curiously.

Well - I started to reply.

It's a really fancy word for poop! interrupted Mister Man, with arguably the best definition of turd ever.  But that didn't earn the books a reprieve.


Tami October 22, 2012 at 12:17 PM  

My son loved Captain Underpants. I think all boys go thru a fascination with poo. It's just, well… funny. To them anyway. It was a stage. He got over it.

Tara R. October 22, 2012 at 6:51 PM  

I asked my son if he remembered reading Capt. Underpants books and he said had one, but that I didn't like them and wouldn't let him get any more.

He said he liked it not because it was funny, but because it was 'inappropriate.' Sounds like we made the right decision about the series.

Jen @ BigBinder October 22, 2012 at 8:22 PM  

I consider Captain Underpants the 9 year old boy version of a trashy beach novel. They're gross, but so are boys kinda... my son can only have one at at time too :)

Michelle October 23, 2012 at 9:47 AM  

Tami - It is funny, but it's impacting his behavior and language and he can't afford any more ... challenges. There's too much good stuff out there, but that's why this works for us and not for everyone.

Tara - I don't know how long the books have been out, so your son might have been lucky enough to miss most of them. Interesting that he looks back and believes he liked it because it was inappropriate.

Jen - That's the perfect analogy. And another reason why he isn't reading them anymore... he doesn't need trashy novels right now ;)

Sandra October 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM  

I've never come across these books--probably since my first reader is a girl. She went through the 'butt' phase at age 3 and that was that. I totally agree about avoiding inappropriate reading/watching/experiencing materials. There is so much GOOD STUFF out there! I loved the last little vignette--your wee ones are adorable!

kim/TheMakerMom October 25, 2012 at 3:50 AM  

We too removed those books at one point due to their effect on language and behavior. The books eventually resurfaced, but the boys were older and there was less collateral damage.

Charlie Chaplin movies, with their emphasis on slapstick had a similar effect on at least one of my boys back in the day.

Sarah October 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM  

UGH! You mean the poo fascination isn't almost over?! My kids are 3 & 5 and I was hoping we were nearing the end of that stage. Boo! Good luck to you - I hope you get to leave it behind soon!

tiarastantrums October 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM  

HA - I banned those books last year! Next up for your son will be Big Nate!

Michelle October 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM  

Sandra - Of course your girl skipped them. My non-girly girl was just as into them as Mister Man. Count your blessings, but I'm glad you are finding some of the good stuff out there, too!

Kim - Yep, it's the impact on the language and behavior more than anything else. If you can read or watch something and not have it change the way you are and should be, I'm ok with it. This one? Not so much.

Sarah - Ummmm no. Given what I've seen of teen boys, this phase may never end.

Teresa - I'm hoping it isn't. He tried reading Big Nate a couple years ago (they're bad? Oops), but he was bored by them. Generally when that happens, he doesn't ever go back to them.

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