Friday 6 September 2013

A is for apple and M is for...chippies

I had a pretty shameful parenting moment the other week. I was reading stories to my almost three year-old before bedtime, when after carefully studying the front cover of one particular book he suddenly pointed at a large, rounded letter "M" in the title and said: "Chippies!"

Goodness, gracious, great balls of FARK. I was horrifed. My child was associating the letter 'M' with McDonalds. What kind of parent was I? We don't go to Maccas that often - I swear! It's only a treat every now and then. It's true that he's some kind of McDonalds trainspotter, calling out "Chippies!" whenever we drive past the golden arches, but I'd never really worried about it...until now.

Obviously the association between the letter 'M' and fries is far more ingrained in his impressionable mind than I realised. Damn it! Those crazy junkfood pusher hypnotists. Ever since it happened I've been cursing myself for ever introducing him to the restaurant chain. It's both a reminder about how bad and addictive the food is for little ones, and also an eye-opener to how it's wrongly influencing his understanding and development of the English language.

My son can't read or write yet, but he can say the alphabet (about 90% right anyway), and he does recognise certain letters and words when he sees them. I simply cannot believe he's now incorporating a burger chain into that world. Makes me feel squeamish just thinking about it.

On one hand I'm impressed with his recollection skills and the ability to connect a symbol to a place. But on the other it horrifies me beyond belief. I feel like I've failed as a parent in some way. I know that senses like smell and taste are the strongest, and in this instance I guess that's how he's been guided, but it just reeks of wrongness.

In my feeble attempt to rectify the situation, I had to explain to my son that the reason he thought 'M' meant chips was because the brightly lit sign he often sees with that letter stands for a word, called McDonalds. I then went on to discuss a stack of other words that started with the letter 'M' but it felt kind of moot. I knew he was still thinking about hot, salty fries and how good it would be to have some right now. Yeah whatever Mum - blah blah blah blah. Not cool.

Ok, so I can't undo the past or rewire his tastebuds. He can never unsee those golden arches of fast-food evilness. So what can I do? A start is to step up the reading (even though we normally read at least five books a day), and my proactive teaching of words and letters. But other than that I'm lost. I don't really want to start saying chips are bad, because I think it will confuse and upset him. He was most likely extremely proud of the fact he'd recognised the 'chippie sign' on the front of his book. And technically he was right (on some levels), so I'm not going to say he was wrong. I just need to now sidestep him away from that association and not visit McDonalds for a very long time.

Mmmm. "Today's show is brought to you by the letter 'M' - would you like fries with that?"

Not lovin' it so much right now.

What parenting moments have made you want to hide in shame?

photo credit: _skynet via photopin cc



  1. Funny... I don't think you're totally to blame, luv. There are probably subliminal messages all around us in places only toddlers would look.

  2. Great post! I must admit when I see the McDonalds M my first thought is 'chippies' too! :)

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