Our son Sparky has had a tough go of it lately. By tough, I mean he is three years old and trying to navigate the confusing world of grown-ups. We give conflicting information and items have confusing names. As adults, we sometimes don’t quite appreciate the generous spirit that dwells in the hearts of our children and that is also confusing to them. The following instances occurred this weekend alone:
His great aunt has been having some health issues, scary on several levels, but difficult to explain to a tot. I simply explained that Auntie E was not feeling well and maybe he could draw her a nice picture to cheer her up. He immediately lit up and proudly stated he would draw her “a picture of a velociraptor because that would make anyone happy.” Uhm… okay. Curious, I wondered aloud why a drawing of a vicious, pack hunting, predator would make her happy — he simply stated, “because I drawed it.” Well, okay.
One of the programs he has watched on television for a while features a family of pigs who like to jump in muddy puddles at every opportunity. He’s a keen enthusiast of this activity and eager to try out his rain boots in the many, many puddles that appear almost daily in our drive. He remembers doing this last summer and has not quite grasped the concept of the weather being too cold to indulge in this exercise. It has resulted in several hissy fits being pitched and loads of muddy laundry. I blame the piggy parents for not being specific about puddle jumping in only warm weather, Sparky blames me for not letting his boots get filled with water in 36-degree weather.
We have been reading lots of books — a special friend recently sent him a cache of new books and we were studying a book about giant bugs, which led to a conversation about other animals in the garden. Toads, turtles, snakes and worms are part of the environment here and I don’t want him to be afraid of anything, but rather to be able to respect the defenses of each animal.
We talked about whether a toad peeing on you will cause warts (no), or whether all snakes are dangerous (no), or if turtles will bite (maybe). So, the other day, when the weather was slightly warmer, he was extremely excited when he charged into the house to tell me he had found a snake. He wanted me to come look, so I shrugged into a coat and let him escort me to where he had last seen the snake. I fully expected explaining that it had probably slithered away, but, when I saw the Hubs standing nearby, I figured it was just a stick. I had not expected to see a partially pulverized garter snake. The Hubs was congratulating himself for saving us from annihilation; Sparky and I were disappointed over the demise of a cool reptile.
One of Sparky’s books about dinosaurs shows an excavation of a partial skeleton. The photo story tells about discovering the bones, removing them from the earth, then the remains being displayed in a museum. When we were walking through the field beside the house, he discovered our dogs’ giant rawhide bone partially buried below a shrub. He practically shrieked with joy over the discovery of his dinosaur fossil and was so sincere about needing to deliver it to the nearest museum. It was adorable, even as he asked why I was willing to give his fossil to the dog. He obviously considers my lack of excitement over this scientific discovery to be a serious shortcoming.
Finally, meals can be hectic to plan and execute. The Hubs asked what I wanted for supper one night, and completely out of ideas and with no idea what was in the pantry, I suggested he simply make some pigs in blankets with a couple of side dishes to go alongside. Sparky showed some interest at this new menu offering, a minor miracle for a child working hard at being a picky eater. However, when presented with his meal, he looked up with complete disgust and exclaimed “these aren’t pigs! Those are sausages!” His devastation was complete. He stomped over to the sofa, grabbed one of his toys and a throw; then presenting his stuffed piggy, now encased in a wrap — he explained that THIS was a pig in a blanket because we obviously were clueless.
I’m trying to be more concise with my explanations and to view the world from his limited perspective. I am also trying hard to discover the magic and to appreciate all the possibilities the world offers to a person who believes in the likelihood of finding a t-rex bone under a honeysuckle bush in Ohio. To see the world through these rose-tinted glasses is a gift I dare not squander not take for granted because; the view is amazing.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.