June 18, 2009

Life lessons from a 4 year old

My daughter met a new friend at school this week.

E: "Mom, I met a new boy at school today. His name is Pete, but his real name is Peter and he is really nice. I like him and we played a lot. His favorite color is red and he likes trucks and dinosaurs. He has an older sister and he doesn't like princesses. Oh yeah and he has big ears."

I immediately dove into the mom required speech about how people can come in all shapes and sizes and look different from one another. I went on about how it doesn't matter how someone looks and she should not point out differences, blah, blah, blah. Literally 5 minutes of really good mom lessons there, I was making myself proud thinking I had dodged that bullet on her saying something hurtful to this sweet new friend.

E: "I already told him he had big ears."

Oh geez, poor little guy. His self esteem is ruined at the age of 4, and it was all my fault because I had not driven this point home earlier. He probably ran away from her and went straight to a therapy session that I definitely should foot the bill for.

I braced myself, imagining lots of tears, hurt feelings, and a parent-teacher conference in my future.

ME: "Well, what did he say when you said that?"

E: "He said, 'I know'."

Okay, I already like his parents. They are raising a great kid.

Even though he doesn't seem to have any long lasting issues from my daughter making such an observation on his outwardly appearance, I was still mortified.

I reiterated, "Honey, we don't talk about people's differences, that can hurt their feelings. How would you feel if someone said you have big ears?"

E: "But I don't have big ears so why would they say that?"

Why do these conversations never go like they write them in parenting books?

ME: "Well wouldn't it hurt your feelings if someone pointed out that you look different than them by saying that you have big ears?"

E: "Well, no, it wouldn't if I had big ears. And he isn't different mom, he just has big ears."

How did she end up looking like Gandhi, while I felt like a total moron? I dropped it and asked her to tell me more about her new friend. The more I discussed his alleged big ears the more I was making it seem as if something was wrong with him. The way my life goes, if I kept on with my point, she would probably go to school and tell this little guy that her mommy said he is funny looking.

Seriously, am I ever going to get this parenting thing down?

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