Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When your child notices the world

When you have an infant you’re amazed at their growth and progress. You marvel at how they will follow a bright object or get startled by a new sound. You laugh when they giggle and they giggle ‘cause you laughed. The world opens up all over again when you have a child.

As they grow your toddler will find a bug you’ve never seen or show you something at ground level you’ve forgotten, your pre-schooler excites you when they learn something new and going to school opens up and entirely bright, new, exciting existence.

It’s when their little brDSCF4027ains start to process information, notice other things in the world besides themselves and then put it all together that life gets extremely interesting. When that processing starts (and in all stages of it) children turn to us – their parents – to fill in the blanks.

When my oldest child, now 20, was a little girl I remember her asking me a lot of questions. Now I wish I had written down all of the answers because I had no idea I would have to provide the answers to the same questions… and many, many more.

For instance, today my son said to me that he thought his three cousins having three different fathers was “weird.” “Why is that weird,” I said, “you probably know other people like that.”

He pondered that for a moment because it just didn’t make sense. I said, “Well, you and your siblings have all different mothers.”

The arch in his eyebrow and his unwavering gaze asked for more. I explained how is older brother, he and his two sisters as well as his younger brother have three different mothers. He thought about it a moment then asked something like “how does that happen.”

“Your dad was with* three different mommies.” (*I sure did stumble over that phrase. I couldn’t decide between “was with,” “had” and “knew.” LOL)

“He was married to all three?”

DSCF4056No, yes and I don’t know, is he? Was my answer. (BTW: He is married to the last one’s mother, but I guess I’m not supposed to know.)

“Well, what was he and [my big brother’s] mom?”

“Girlfriend and boyfriend, I guess.”

“You can’t stay together if you’re girlfriend and boyfriend?”

“Well, you can, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That’s why it’s normally best not to have any children unless you’re married ‘cause it gets complicated.”

“What’s complicated?”

“Difficult… hard… sometimes it can be hard, can’t it?”

My son nodded yes and put his head back down to continue his homework.

That’s right up with the time he asked me why I didn’t have anymore milk for babies and why I don’t want anymore babies. Or the other day when he asked if I was getting old ‘cause I’d been really sick and was having trouble moving around and talking. Then there was the time he and his sisters asked why their big sister doesn’t have the same last name as they do; following it up with a “why?” – of course.

If my brain wasn’t so tired I probably could come up with many more instances (most of which have happened recently!), but I think you get my point. As parents we really do have to be on our A game all the time ‘cause you never know when you’re going to be called to play.

What is the most difficult and embarrassing question your child(ren) has asked recently? Do you find it hard or uncomfortable to discuss the more serious topics?

Img_00399I always try to give my children age-appropriate and factual information regardless of whether it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing for me. There isn’t anyway I can redo the past or keep them from growing up so they can hopefully learn from my experiences as well as the answers I give them.

Now, go out and notice the world with them.