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Toddler Tact: A Village of Witnesses

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One of the things I learned early on about motherhood was how open our lives would be as soon as our child was verbal. You have no more secrets when your child starts to talk. None. In our particular situation, our lives have been an open book for a long time now, because Claire has been speaking in sentences since she was 17-months old. This has been great in avoiding the typical tantrums caused by miscommunication or the frustration of a communication break-down, but has certainly kept us on our toes, especially in public.

We’ve always been very straightforward with her when it comes teaching her about her environment. She is a veritable sponge, always asking questions, sometimes to the nth degree. She’ll ask what something is or what something does, and we’ll tell her. We try to use the proper scientific names and explain things so that someone of her age can understand, and we are always amazed at her recall and memory.

She may have the ability to remember these things, but learning the proper places and tone to discuss them is still a work in progress.

For example, about a year ago, Claire was just a few months past 2 years old, and we were in Target. We weren’t talking about anything in particular, but I’ll never forget the look on the poor unsuspecting woman’s face when Claire looked right at her and said, ”Did you know boys have penises?” Without missing a beat, I said, “Yes. Yes they do.” I then turned to the woman and said, “Who knew you’d get an impromptu biology lesson in Target?” I kept smiling and pushing the cart, and Claire kept babbling about the next topic on her agenda, and I can only hope the woman regained her composure before she had to go to the check-out.

Or, then there was the time when Claire was almost 2-and-a-half when she picked up her chopsticks in the nice Chinese Restaurant and announced to the room full of people that she was going to use her “tweezers” to “tweeze the big ol’ hair on [her] chin.” (Yes, that was a direct quote.) She ended that charade with a “There! I got it!” She was so proud of herself for replicating what she sees her own mother do. (But, for the record, my tweezers aren’t nearly that big.)

And, I don’t know how many women have been witness to our potty-training sessions in the public restrooms we’ve frequented during that whole adventure. Last June, Claire finally got the hang of it and was fully potty-trained, but that didn’t stop the praise I’d give her for using the potty. I am proud of her every time she uses the potty, and I’m never hesitant to tell her so.

Imagine my delight when it was my turn to go, and she started shrieking with joy, “Good job, Momma! You peed! You’re such a big girl! I’m so proud of you!”

The chuckles I heard from the other side of the door were proof that once again, we were not alone.

I never know what it’s going to be. I never know when it’s going to happen. I just know that it will, and I’ve learned to grow a thick skin and play along.

The most recent foray into the land of Preschooler Tact happened just a couple weeks ago. Claire and I had gone swimming at a local recreation center with some friends. At the beginning of the year, we’d had swimming lessons there for two months straight, and I was a pro at packing for the lessons. I was pretty proud of myself for not forgetting anything integral – the lock to the lockers, our dry clothes, the plastic Target bag for the wet suits. I was the Queen of Organization.

Well, this time, for whatever reason, I’d forgotten an important article of my clothing. I thought I’d put it in the bag, but when I was digging around for it, I remembered getting distracted at home, and I could see it in my mind’s eye. It was at home. Oh well. I went to Plan B without a second of hesitation.

As I’m combing Claire’s hair at the front mirror, she asks me why I’m still wearing my swimsuit top. Not wanting to announce my forgetfulness to the room full of strangers, I leaned over and whispered in her ear. She looks at me, and whispered, “Oh, okay,” back.

No more than 15 second later, she gets a look in her eye and calls out to our friend, who is still changing over by the lockers.

“Hey! Guess what!?”

“What Claire?” my friend asks from across the room.

“Guess what everybody! Momma forgot her bra!” Claire shrieks, just bursting at the seams to share her new-found information.

“Yeah! Guess what, everybody!” I called out over the giggling, in the best deadpan voice I could muster. I mean, what else is there to do but play along at that point?

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that may or may not be true. Either way, when you’re the mother of a verbal preschooler, the village is certainly full of witnesses.

What has the village witnessed recently in your own adventures in motherhood?

Author: JoAnn

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  • comment avatar Amber May 6, 2009

    This is hilarious! I think every parent out there can relate to our children divulging too much information.

  • comment avatar Amber May 6, 2009

    One of my favorites is when we went to The Broadmoor. We were potty training my daughter at the time and my husband excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he came back, from across the pool, my daughter yelled in front of all these affluent people, “Did you do a big pile of poop, Daddy?”

  • comment avatar Bonnie May 6, 2009

    Oh, little ones are so honest and uninhibited! When my son was about 2 he exclaimed in the checkout line at the grocery store “Son of a B Mom, where did you find these?” Sounded just like his grandpa! He was so excited about some colorful sippy cups in the basket. I got a lot of stares. I just kept looking and talking directly to him. He was just copying what he had heard, he had no idea it was wrong. I’m sure the people around me thought I was a bad mom for not reprimanding him right then and there. I did explain to him a few minutes later but he really was innocent.

  • comment avatar XUP May 6, 2009

    When my daughter learned her first few words, “Hi” was one she loved to use. She’d say it to everyone she met wherever we went and was always so delighted when people stopped and said hi back, smiled at her and sometimes chatted for a bit. One day an elderly woman just ignored her so she yelled HI even louder. The woman still didn’t respond. My daughter grimaced and said, (loud enough for everyone to hear) BITCH.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 6, 2009

    Oh. my gosh. Those are hilarious!

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver May 6, 2009

    These are too funny! You always handle things with such composure and wit, JoAnne.

    Trying to think of an example of my own…might have to come back. I’m sure there have been many, lol.

  • comment avatar Alison May 6, 2009

    My son is almost 22 months and starting to surprise us with what he has to say; however, the most unexpected thing he did of late was totally non verbal. We attend a Shin Buddhist temple and at the end people go up to make an offering and drop some incense in a burner. He is really good with directions, so this past Sunday I let him go with me, imagine my surprise (and the stir that was caused) when he dropped our money not in the offering bowl, but the burning incense bowl (at which he said “hot!”). Thankfully, they keep chopsticks close by at the temple, just the right length for removing things from the incense burner!

  • comment avatar Mama Bird May 7, 2009

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud JoAnn & everyone else who shared! We aren’t quite at this stage yet, but I’m actually looking forward to having embarrassing moments like these to share with others and recount to my daughter when she gets older. I have my calendar at the ready to record them when they happen!

  • comment avatar Terra May 16, 2009

    The village in our world witnessed my 3 year old acting like Veruca Salt…if you missed that post I am so sorry!!!

    I love it when kids say embarrasing things…I hate it in the moment but I LOVE laughing about it later!

  • comment avatar JoAnn, The Casual Perfectionist May 16, 2009

    Oh, Amber…that sounds like something Claire would have no qualms shouting out loud!

    Bonnie, that’s so funny! Or not. LOL! I think making a huge to-do about things in public is a sure way to get them to say it again!!

    Oh no, XUP!! Ha!

    Dig deep, Lori…I’m sure they’re there! 🙂

    Oh no, Alison! At least he knew it was hot!

    Mama Bird, just you wait! Sometime tells me you won’t be disappointed. 😉

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! (I’m just now getting back to responding!!)

  • comment avatar JoAnn, The Casual Perfectionist May 16, 2009

    Terra, I’m still sorting through the things I’ve missed since being on our trip. Even without all the details, it sounds entertaining to say the least! Ha!