Thursday, September 20, 2007

The things kids say

Last Saturday, we were at Maymont with a friend and her daughter, letting the girls tear around the lawns and then down to the Japanese garden. At one point, Banana took the other girl down close to the water. There were dragonflies of all sizes and colors around. Banana knelt next to the water and said loudly, "Look, H, those dragonflies are making love!"

My friend Angela put her hand over her mouth and laughed. I swear I blushed as I tried to find something to say. The best I could do was shrug--and worry where she had picked up that phrase.

What I hadn't seen was her putting her hands together to show H how the dragonflies made a heart with their tales when they were mating. She showed me this later, and Banana Mere confirmed that she called mating dragonflies "love dragonflies." In other words, she had mashed the ideas together. I laughed a bit at the explanation, and then told her that I understood what she was saying. Still, I told her, she shouldn't say things like that in school. (Those damn puritan and Lutheran genes...)

My biggest fear was that she had learned to say something she shouldn't say, and this drives straight to my fears that she will learn lots of things earlier than she should. It's also reminiscent of a trip to the pool where a nine year-old girl (the older sister of someone Anna was playing with) told her mom a boy had kissed her. The mom who also has custody shot me a horrified look and said, "That's it. I'm locking her in a tower."

There is an object lesson here: we can't control all the things that will come into our children's lives. Single parents whose children spend significant time with the other parent have even less control. But you can't worry too much about it, right? The best you can do is provide a firm and consistent standard for your child and hope that everything turns out all right--without any locked towers.

*Picture from University of Michigan.