When my older daughter was not yet two, she got the boxed set of all the original Thomas the Tank Engine books. It was her favorite. We read and reread all 26 of them, including the one with wrinkled pages from falling into the toilet. She even made me make up more Thomas stories before every nap and bed time. I legitimately feared the Rev. W. Awdry estate coming after me for royalties.
A few months later, I also learned that there was a school bus manufacturer named Thomas. “That bus says ‘Thomas!’” my excited barely two-year-old shouted one day as we sat at a stop light.
This fall, she started first grade, where she is actually expected to read. Full sentences, not just the names of beloved characters. One is tempted to say, “Ohh, how grown up she’s become.” Except she’s not grown up. She is seven years old. The books she loves are about fairies. Or dolphins. Or magical talking dolphins that can fly. If there were such a book. Indeed, if there were, we’d own three copies.
What seems so grown up, compared to her toddler self, is that she reads (and, yes, she is taller). But that’s as grown up as I want her to be right now (although cleaning her room on her own would be nice too). I want her to remain the sweet little innocent that she is.
Which is why I hate taking her grocery shopping.
If you’ve taken young readers shopping, you know where I’m headed with this. The checkout line. Specifically the magazines at the checkout line. It may seem hard to single any of them out, what with the pictures of celebrity bikini bodies gone bad, the horrific bad-lighting paparazzi photos, and headlines about spurious addictions and infidelities. But if I had to single one out, it wouldn’t be one of those pulp rags. It would be one with a slick glossy cover featuring celebrities who were actually paid to be on it.
Seriously, can there be that many sex tips? I mean, golfers can only focus on maybe one or two tips at a time without messing up their swing — and that’s golf, a complicated sport that takes years to master. Not an activity that comes instinctively for humans as well as weevils. So why does this magazine even need to exist for more than one issue? Ever.
Look, I’m not a total prude here; I have two children as living proof, after all. But do I really have to subject them to Cosmo covers? Do they need to be über-sexualized at so tender an age?
I honestly have to start yelling, “No, you can’t have any candy. Don’t look at the candy! Don’t look at the candy!” just to make sure that they do look at the candy — instead of the Cosmo cover three inches away. The candy at least has a brown wrapper, like the Cosmo should.
Or am I making too big a stink out of this? Am I just a prude, despite my protestations to the contrary? Perhaps? Perhaps.
Perhaps it is just me. Perhaps I’m over exaggerating the pervasive perils threatening my child’s innocence.
So I’ll let you decide. Here, for example, are just some — some — of the actual, totally-not-made-up headlines on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine that I have had to avert my daughter’s eyes from in these last few months since she started first grade.
His Best Sex Ever — Guys Describe the Mind-Blowing Moves They Can’t Stop Thinking About
Too Naughty To Say Here! But you have to try this sex trick
“Um, Vagina, Are You Okay Down There?” Easy Fixes for Freaky Issues
50 KINKY SEX MOVES — Men Vote on Their Favorites
100 Best Sex Tips of the Year
“Sh*t My Guy Says” Where’s a Muzzle When You Need One?
THE FIERCE SEX EVERY COUPLE MUST TRY (At Least Once)
When He Shouldn’t See You Naked
GUYS’ TOP SEX SECRETS — We Reveal the Midbooty Thoughts He’d Never Admit to… but You Need to Know
KINKY SEX — Tell Your Inner Good Girl to Get Lost for the Night!
Bigger, Better Pleasure — 5 Ways to Get Him, Um, Pumped
21 NAUGHTY SEX TIPS — Bold, Breathless Moves That Bring On That Crazy-in-Lust Feeling
4 Words That Seduce Any Man. Anytime.
Guys Answer YOUR SEXIEST Qs — WARNING: Some Are Sweet, Others Are Brutally Honest
Go Naked — 19 WAYS TO FEEL INSTANT PLEASURE
Naughty Thoughts He Has at Work
WHAT YOUR VA-JAY-JAY IS DYING TO TELL YOU
The grocery store has a line for “20 Items or Less,” “10 Items or Less” (some literate groceries even have them for “20 Items or Fewer”) and Self Checkout. Please, could they maybe have a line for children and their parents who don’t want to explain what a “va-jay-jay” is?