“How do I make sure I don’t have a baby?”
Habits. We all have them.
They can be good.
We brush our teeth at night, wash our hands after using the toilet, say pardon me when we need to squeeze past someone…
They can be bad.
We scratch our mosquito bites, bite our nails, procrastinate…
They are often neutral.
We wear black more often than brown, always eat eggs for breakfast, buy more apples than we can eat in a week… These neutral habits are simply things we do. We do them so often, in fact, that we aren’t even cognizant of their being done until one day, for some reason, it stands out.
That day was last night. As I tucked The Kidling in (after a discussion of shapely meals), I became aware of her habit of repeating what I say to her at bedtime. A salutation, as we know, is oft repeated:
“Good night, Dear” “Good night.”
“Good morning!” “Good morning!”
“Bye now!” “Goodbye.”
“Have a great day!” “You have a great day, too!”
It often makes sense to repeat a salutation, but surely I am not the only one who has found myself replying, “you too!” to a wish of safe travels when I am the only one about to embark on an adventure.The same, it seems, is true of The Kidling. Once we had decided that I would be checking in on her in ten minutes (which I–ahem–forgot to do because I was writing this story), I tucked her in, said goodnight, then promised, “I’ll check on you in a little bit.”
“I’ll check on YOU in a little bit,” The Kidling replied.
Um. Sure. Goodnight.
The Kidling has, on myriad occasions, tried to get me to understand her conceptualization of gendered colors. And I have, on each of those occasions, pretended I had no idea what she was talking about. I asked for her to explain it to me. I played dumb.
You see, it all began years ago when The Kidling told me that blue is a boy color and pink is a girl color. Way too early. Like, at three years old. So I, you guessed it, played dumb.
“Interesting,” I would ask. “How are colors boys or girls?”
And she would get so mad!
“They just are!” was a common reply.
Solidly reasoned. Sign this kid up for law school.
So I pushed. And pushed. Until I got the answer I wanted.
“But what makes a creature a girl? What makes another creature a boy?” I questioned further.
When I finally received an anatomically correct response from The Kidling, she just got irritated and huffed off, as if I couldn’t possibly be saved from my own ignorance.
Which is probably true.
I thought we were past this. At the very least, I thought The Kidling had given up on me. Then yesterday, she spied the clothes I had set out for her to wear to school and requested a different cardigan. I could not possibly care less what she wears to school,* and I was preparing to agree when she said of her sweater,
The Kidling: That’s a boy color.
The Mama: Why? It is red!? How is red a boy color?
The Kidling: (stubbornly) I just know it is. Boy colors are dark and wrinkly.
This conversation brought to you by The Mama (whose favorite color is black) and The Kidling (whose favorite color is… wait for it… blue. go figure).
* Not quite true. But close.
“This would be better with beer.” *
November 17, 2013
* Disclaimer: The Kidling has never, not even once, tasted beer. Coffee, yes… Anyone who allows a high-energy 5 year-old to have a sip of coffee is clearly a glutton for punishment.
Have you ever wondered what a five year-old child’s profile on OkCupid would look like? No? Huh.
Well, I have. Don’t hate: we all have flashes of brilliance.
For what it’s worth, this little verbal image (if that’s a thing) came to me after pondering an interaction between my dear child and a physician on Monday. This gentleman, Dr. Who,* is a specialist at the Our Town Gigantic Hospital (hereinafter OTGH). As the name suggests, OTGH is rather large. Gigantic, in fact. And though this fact can underscore many interactions between patient and physician, it did not this week. Dr. Who took the time to make The Kidling comfortable before assessing her condition.
Dr. Who: Are you in school?
The Kidling: Yeah.
Dr. Who: What grade are you in? Second?
The Kidling: Kindergarten! People think I’m older. I’m five, but I wear six pants.
Dr. Who: What do you like to when you aren’t in school?
The Kidling: I like to imaginate.
Dr. Who: Oh! Do you like to write stories?
The Kidling: Uh huh. (pause) I haven’t finished one yet.
Her extraordinary honesty notwithstanding, this painfully cute exchange got me thinking about how The Kidling and other kidling-types** would describe themselves to a new person.
A three foot, ten inch 5 year-old, I’ve lived in Our Town for my entire life. I study at Local Elementary, where my favorite subjects are Music, PE, and Centers. Centers really speak to me, as I spend my time there drawing and imaginating animals, contraptions, and stories. I have watched Happy Feet dozens of times, but I am equally fond of more serious television and cinema, including Secretariat, Wild Kratts, and Dinosaur Train.
I think a healthy body is important, and I like to ride my bike (thank goodness I have training wheels, LOL!), race my parents (they always let me win), and climb ropes in gymnastics. I am the fastest rope climber in my class, but the other kids try really hard and I tell them “Nice job. Maybe you’ll win next time” because it is important to be nice. If you are nice, too, then maybe we can be friends.
I would totally ask for a playdate.
* Not his real name. Duh.
** Can I just add that I adore the fact that my iPad has not only learned the word “kidling,” but it autocorrects to uppercase. That’s right, Apple. It’s “The Kidling” to you.
Monday night. Bath time. The Kidling plays while The Mama sits tub-side. We chat. The Mama gets up to grab something before returning to her seat on the floor. The Kidling turns to look, then stops.
The Kidling: You look different.
The Mama: How?
The Kidling: Your face has more reddish brownish spots.
- Adult acne sucks, and
- A filter is a good thing.
Instagram is popular for a reason.
I know I make a lot of confessions on the pages of this blog, so I hope you don’t mind if I add another.
The Parents are terrible (terrible!) about having The Kidling help around the house. Chores–or “chewers” to The Kidling–are far more of a chewer for us to manage than to simply do the damn thing ourselves.
I know, I know: responsibility, blah blah. Contribute to the family, blah blah. Feeling helpful is good for self-esteem, blah blah. I am well aware of every argument in favor of giving children chewers. Hell, I even agree. But that doesn’t stop me from not being the mother in practice that I wish I were in theory.
Sorry to disappoint, dear readers.
Now, we haven’t eschewed chewers completely; rather, we have taken the path of least resistance. We have The Kidling do the things that won’t make us lose our marbles if they aren’t done right/quickly/immediately. The Kidling “helps” put away dishes and gets out napkins and utensils at dinner time, but that constitutes almost every item on our menu of chewers. The only other thing we consistently ask for The Kidling’s help doing is fetching things from our wee garden.
The Family has a modest vegetable garden in the back yard. It is far smaller than usual this year because The Dog is getting old and didn’t eat all of the rabbits when they were babies this year.
Six tomato plants, some peppers, and some herbs are the only plants this year that survived the adorable little thieves that can’t stay away from The Family’s buffet. While making dinner, I often send The Kidling out to harvest basil and garlic chives from our little patch of dirt. I asked my dear daughter to bring me garlic chives last weekend and she looked at me oddly.
“Why’s it called chives? Why’s it called chives? Chives sounds like vagina. Like it’s a vagina kind of plant that pees.”
I tried to let that one slide without much reaction (though I worry about the note that will come home from The Kidling’s kindergarten teacher when they work on the long “I” sound).
Fast forward to tonight’s dinner prep. I made a summer staple around here, caprese pasta. The Dada got to do the basil-harvesting honors, and I think The Kidling felt left out. Just before everything was ready, she wanted to make sure I had everything I needed, offering, “Do you need some ‘ginas?”
Choking back a giggle, I confirmed that that would be the perfect addition to our meal.
The Dada has a thing about matching: he hates it. If we are wearing clothing that even approaches the same color family, he either changes his clothes, or he politely requests that I change mine. I have no desire to be the parenting version of Thing 1 and Thing 2, so it seems a fair enough request.
This isn’t the book of the dada, so you are probably wondering, dear readers, why I am telling you this.
I thought you’d never ask.
The Family was prepping for an outing Saturday morning and we were at varying stages of “ready,” per normal. The Kidling was about half ready, The Dada was showered, dressed, and prepped to walk out the door, and The Mama– well–
I was washing my face in yesterday’s tee shirt.
Yeah, sorry. I’m notorious for that sort of thing.
The thing is, yesterday’s tee shirt was black and The Dada was wearing a tee shirt, too. A black tee shirt. Unaware that I was sporting a pre-worn, about to be tossed into the laundry chute tee, The Dada stopped in his tracks and uttered a worried, “uh oh…” when he spotted my ebony swath of cotton.
The Kidling, curious about The Dada’s seemingly unfounded concern, looked at me quizzically. I smiled and explained that The Dada doesn’t much care for matching. Before I could continue, she interrupted, disputing the notion that we matched by explaining, “But your shirt has short sleeves and Daddy’s bottom is smaller.”
You can’t get anything by The Kidling. Particularly when that “thing” is The Mama’s bottom.