We were in the kitchen when Mary wandered in, face buried in the new edition of The Week magazine.
Jack smiled, "no, I'm good, thanks".
Mary can read and the world is a new and glorious place.
Finding the shortest line at Target is imperative. Where once they were content to help me move shampoo and paper towels from cart to counter, they now hover at the magazine stand, reading headlines unfit for my adult eyes.
"Mom, who is John Travolta? What is gay? Is it bad?"
Attempts to engage them in the fascinating business of checking out are only somewhat effective, "oh my goodness, look at this, we bought lavender scented bleach! What do you think that is going to smell like?". Overzealous examination of household products can only compete with US Weekly for so long.
"Kate, that is Suri and her parents are Tom and Katie. They are divorcing and no one knows what is going to happen to Suri", said Mary, gesturing to the cover of People. "Really", said Kate, intensely interested , "who are they?". "They are famous" answered Mary with authority.
The truth is, once you can read you can read anything, and we're not safe anywhere.
You can hire someone to baby proof your home, to plug outlets and shield precious heads from lethal table corners but as far as I know, there is no such service to protect children from what lurks on the printed page. Maybe if they were reading the cover of the Times, if my scope of explanations extended only to the impending fiscal cliff or Libya, or even the soaring murder rate in Chicago, I might not wish to reader proof their world. But when tomorrow's news at the check out line is Snooki Stands Up For Fellow New Mom Jessica Simpson: She's a MILF!, I know I need to beef up the fascination factor of the cart contents.
"Girls! Look at this, over here, I am buying Windex with vinegar! Imagine that, like in salad, vinegar! The scope of my madness knows no bounds I tell you!"
Or maybe we just stay home and live with dirty windows.