When my son was only weeks old, a friend of ours got right down in his face and said, "Pasta Fazul." Our friend explained that he hoped to be responsible for those particular neurons, fusing them forever. Imagine our surprise when, twelve years later, our son enjoys pasta fine, but isn't a huge fan of the fazul.
This surprise is matched only by that surrounding the mystery of our son's Japanese. We had fully expected that he would be speaking fluently at this point, or at least be able to count to ten. The number of hours he spent in front of Baby Einstein should have created a genius polyglot. Unless it turns out that the whole Baby Einstein thing was a lot of hooey.
The New York Times reported last week that Disney is offering a refund to buyers of its Baby Einstein videos, which did not, as promised, turn babies into wunderkinds. And now, there's a nasty little bit of litigation in the air. A letter threatening Disney with a class-action lawsuit for "deceptive advertising," public health lawyers hired by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood cited a study which found a link between early television exposure and later problems with attention span. Did somebody say "pasta fazul?"
Part of me wants to believe that we were such clever parents that we found this magical means of hyper-stimulating our son's cerebral cortex while we were busy thumbing through catalogs filled with "smart baby toys." The rest of me, the teacher part, is kicking himself for being silly enough to imagine that watching TV, as an infant, would make anyone smarter. The slack-jawed countenance of my little boy on the couch at any point during his youth as he stares into the vast wasteland is evidence enough for me to the contrary.
Still, he is on the honor roll. He has been since he started middle school. And as far as that Japanese thing goes, my wife saw the video enough to remember: Ich, Ni, San, Shi, Go, Roku, Shichi, Hachi, Kyu, Ju. Would you like some fazul with that?