One of my most cherished memories of my son's earliest days on the planet comes from the time that our good friend got nose to nose with him and said these words: pasta fazul. At this point, our friend turned to us, the puzzled parents, and asked, "Did you see that synapse fire? I did that!"
And so it goes. As a teacher, I am constantly aware of my son's progress through the chutes and ladders of education. My wife and I have always considered ourselves to be quite clever, so the expectations on our progeny were extremely high. We fretted over the time it took him to learn to roll over, and to crawl (which he never did - he just sort of scooted around on his bottom), and all the correlations that baby science told us there were between these early accomplishments and the chances of a child getting into the college of his or her choice.
We sat him in front of "Baby Einstein," which we hoped would teach our child to speak several languages and to appreciate art and classical music. In a moment of meta-media that only a parent could comprehend, we took video of our son staring at the television. Looking back on this moment only recently I was able to recognize the blank stare that all human beings develop when set in front of a television. He never did learn to count to ten in Japanese.
Then one day, he picked up a "Calvin and Hobbes" book. He was fascinated by the pictures and intensely interested in the words that poured out of Calvin's mouth. One morning he appeared in the kitchen, book in hand, asking, "What does 'transmogrify' mean?" We knew then that our concerns may have been overstated. Since then we have had to do additional reading on the side to keep up with him. Today when I read this: Sara Mead, a senior policy analyst with Education Sector, a centrist Washington think tank says, "While neural connections in babies' brains grow rapidly in the early years, adults can't make newborns smarter or more successful by having them listen to Beethoven or play with Einstein-inspired blocks." Of course not, Sara. Just feed them plenty of pasta fazul and keep them reading "Calvin and Hobbes. "