This past week, my husband and I were having a conversation when we were interrupted by our three year old’s non-sequitur statement that, “E is not a human.” When asked what his little sister was, if she weren’t human, he pragmatically replied, “She’s a baby!”
That conversation, and various others like it, leave me chuckling and thinking children really do say the darnedest things.
Some things are really cute; other things can make a parent wish for the floor to open up and swallow them (the parent, not the child) whole.
For example, sitting in a pharmacy a couple weeks back, M was being rather precocious. He was inquisitive about everything that day. As we settled in for our standard 45+ minute wait for our prescription to be filled, he struck up a conversation with an older lady. I quickly ascertained she was in her early 70s, making her slightly older than my parents and in-laws.
The conversation started out innocently enough.
M: My mommy had my baby sister, E.
Lady (L): Oh, that is wonderful! Are you a good big brother?
M: Uh-huh. And, E came out of my Mommy’s belly.
L: That is good to hear. What do you think of your baby sister?
Imagine the horror, when my son innocently responded: Do you have a baby in your belly??
L (laughing, along with 5 other people, all waiting patiently for their medications): No, I don’t.
M: Why not?
And, insert my forceful end to the conversation by telling him something to change the subject.
Yet, even as I changed the subject, I answered his question in the best way I could, even if I can’t remember what I said in the moment anymore.
I’ve realized lately, some of my explanations to his “why,” questions are more complex than the answer he is seeking.
I know I need to ask him why he is wanting the answer, or ask him how he thinks it should be answered. Yet, another part of me wants to continue answering his questions as thoroughly as I can, since I know the world I grew up in is vastly different than the world he and his sister will be raised. Their world will be harsher, and will force them to abandon their innocence at a much earlier age.
While I would like to think I will maintain their innocence, I am saddened by the notion that I can only protect them for so long, and I can only keep them innocent for so long. If I don’t shy away from answering his questions now, at least my answers afford me the opportunity to try and keep a glimmer of innocence about life alive in the children as long as possible.
Trying to balance the scale of maintaining their innocence, yet preparing them for the big world they will enter, I keep in mind – I have been entrusted with these little humans. It is up to me to determine the best course of action to guide their early lessons, and to continue to foster their inquisitive natures.
I certainly hope and pray I don’t get asked about the birds and the bees any time soon. In the meantime, I will continue to embrace all the moments my kiddos say the darnedest things.
What about you, lovely readers? What is a, “floor open up and swallow me right now,” moment you have had while parenting?