“Drop the line, embrace their minds.”
That’s a “pledge card” pitch.
The point of that appeal from the Charleston County School District Head Start early childhood program is to get parents to talk less on the phone and talk more to their kids. As reported on Saturday’s front page by youthful Post and Courier colleague Paul Bowers:
“Hoping to bridge a long-documented vocabulary gap among children of low-income families, district leaders are asking parents to commit to engaging their children in conversations in the car, around the dinner table or any other time they regularly spend together.”
That sounds like a swell idea.
Yet it also sounds like a shame that parents have to be taught — and even sold on a “pledge” — to talk to their kids.
Then again, several years ago the CCSD came to this strangely belated realization of what should have always been obvious:
Teaching children to read and write is an indispensable task of public education.
Hence, district officials launched a wide-ranging literacy offensive.
Hey, better late than never.
As for children needing to hear more from their mom and dads, they also need to hear from other adults.
And youngsters aren’t the only ones who suffer from failures to communicate across the generations.
For instance, most kids can charms — and inspire — most of us non-kids in candid dialogues about bugs, dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, other critters, school, games, friends, family, food, clothes, music, dancing, art, superheroes, dirt, etc. Plus, unlike adults, few kids pontificate about politics and religion.
So don’t just talk to children.
Listen to them.
Still, if you can hold their attention long enough when it’s your turn to speak, use your voice of experience to warn:
If you’re driving, don’t drink, and if you’re drinking, don’t drive.
The Masters doesn’t start until the Back Nine on Sunday, a maxim that Jordan Spieth learned the hard way.
Indecision, in life as in golf, can be very costly. Or as Davy Crockett, aka “King of the Wild Frontier,” put it: “Decide what’s right, then go ahead.”
Always keep a fresh man in the ring during tag-team matches.
Now for us old folks, ponder this ageless wisdom that lyricist Carolyn Leigh put to a tune written by Johnny Richards and sung by, among others, Frank Sinatra:
“Fairy tales can come true,
It can happen to you,
If you’re young at heart,
For it’s hard,
You will find,
To be narrow of mind,
If you’re young at heart”
Those last three words were the title of the song — and of a 1954 movie starring Sinatra and Doris Day.
OK, so whether you’re young or old at heart or at anything else, maybe you’re still stumped for more enlightenment to bestow upon kids.
If so, borrow from the adult-to-teen counsel, which is good for all ages, in exchanges between the two main characters of a 1966-68 ABC series.
On the power of sounds:
Dick Grayson (Bruce Wayne’s “youthful ward,” played by Burt Ward): “What so important about Chopin?”
Bruce Wayne (Adam West): “All music is important, Dick. It’s the universal language. One of our best hopes for the eventual realization of the brotherhood of man.”
Dick: “Gosh, Bruce, yes, you’re right. I’ll practice harder from now on.”
Batman (Bruce Wayne in his crimefighter costume): “Better put 5 cents in the meter.”
Robin (Dick as Batman’s law-enforcing sidekick): “No policeman’s going to give the Batmobile a ticket.”
Batman: “This money goes to building better roads. We all must do our part.”
On nature’s ways:
Batman: “When you get a little older, you’ll see how easy it is to become lured by the female of the species.”
Robin: “I guess you can never trust a woman.”
Batman: “You’ve made a hasty generalization, Robin. It’s a bad habit to get into.”
On the importance of brushing — and flossing:
Robin (after averting death by biting the Batarang, which was linked to the Batrope): “Holy molars! Am I ever glad I take good care of my teeth!”
Batman: “True. You owe your life to dental hygiene.”
On armed conflict’s price:
Batman: “Nobody wants war.”
Robin: “Gee, Batman. Belgravia’s such a small country. We’d beat them in a few hours.”
Batman: “Yes, and then we’d have to support them for years.”
And finally, a reminder of how small our seemingly big problems are in relation to the vast cosmos:
Dick: “Wow! The rings of Saturn! This is sure some fun, Bruce.”
Bruce: “Astronomy is more than mere fun, Dick.”
Dick: “It is?”
Bruce: “Yes, it helps give us a sense of proportion. Reminds us how little we are, really. People tend to forget that sometimes.”
Dick: “Gosh yes, that’s right. I’ll bet I see those rings a little differently this time!”
And if you’ll take time to chat with a little kid, you might see things a little differently — and maybe even a little more clearly.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.