Monday, September 12, 2011

Stumped

I'm totally stealing the whole middle text adjustment from another blog.

It's a new month. I wanted to change it up a a little today.

Can you copyright stylistic blog decisions like that? If so, I am totally guilty and will pay any and all fines--as long as it is in the form of knitted monkeys, elephants or beanies. 

***

We've had a year or so of the "whys."
You know, when your children all of a sudden start answering any and all attempts at verbal engagement with "why?"
In the beginning, I feel like it is test driving a new way to communicate.
Then it becomes a game.
At times, manipulation.

But we are barreling toward 3 1/2 over here, training pants and all, and the "whys" are transforming into something new...

(Was Confucius a toddler?
I kinda think so, because these 3 year olds start saying things that I am pretty sure could be sold to fortune cookie distributors:

"I cannot see that with my ears. We need to turn life up.")

Now I'm dodging these esoteric type questions for which I have no answer.
Approaching a simple "why", albeit annoying, was easy. I took 1 of 2 paths when Miles threw them at me ad nauseam:
  1. Why not, Miles?
  2. I don't know.
Usually this worked. And if not, good ole fashion ignoring seemed to quiet the fire.

(Please don't think I am not engaging in my child's curiosity--I'm talking about those "whys" that are asked when the interest is not in the answer, but in the response to the asking 8 zillion times.)

Anyway, now I'm thrown doozies like this:

"Mommy, what is behind the sky?"

Yeah, your turn readers. How do you answer that? I was stumped. Miles asked this in the car yesterday. (And why do they ask this type of stuff in the car when I have no way of retreating??) I mean, I get what he is asking, but how do I even broach the topic of space/time continuum or the concept of "universe?" Luckily, he answered it for me:
"Mommy, it's dark behind the sky."
"Yes, Miles...yes it is." Phew!

But the other day, I was not so lucky...
Miles, Felix, and I were in the car (clearly) after a whirlwind 3 playground morning, and I had been talking about one of his good friends who graduated from his school and is going to big kid school this year (ya know--pre-K). His mother is pregnant with twins (who's not these days?), and I was explaining that B was going to have a baby brother and sister.
Miles has been recently, out of nowhere, commenting/asking "I came out of your belly? Then Felix came out of your belly? But we came at different times?"
Asking this on the way up to one of Eric's school functions. Asking while on a walk. One must wonder what sparks this line of questioning.
I knew this twin thing would throw him for a loop.
After trying to explain what twins are, and what non-twin siblings are (an important lesson since it appears that now is the time everyone is starting to question whether or not my boys are twins), Miles said,
"I want you to have another baby in your belly."
Thankfully, he said this a good 2 months after losing the last pregnancy, so I didn't dissolve in tears and force one of the boys to take the wheel while the other one managed the pedals.
I responded,
"Would you want another brother or a sister?"
Miles said,
"First a brother, and then a sister, and then Felix."
I said,
"Well, I think if you have another sibling, it will be just one, but we need to talk to Daddy because he helps make a baby."
Oh boy...oops...DANGER...why did I do that? Thankfully, Miles didn't pursue that thought any more.
He paused, and then asked,
"Where is that baby now?"
Ugh...my mind starts going back to biology class, philosophy, and religion.
XY Chromosomes
Ovulation
Existence
Souls
...
"Miles, that baby doesn't exist."
"But Mommy, where is the baby now?"
Clearly "exist" is a concept we need to work on...
Right after pooping in a potty.

I get it, I get it. It's a good question, and one I just couldn't figure out how to respond. I tried to explain that there is no baby until Mommy and Daddy create one, and that it grows in the belly and gets bigger from the food Mommy eats.
What in creation was I thinking?
Total parenting fail.
I shoulda just stuck with the stork story or Babies R Us purchase.

 I'm not ready for this one...

***

Last night while finally watching some 9/11 coverage, I thought a lot about uncomfortable and hard discussions with our children. Although Miles is FAR too young to talk about 9/11 to him (in my opinion), and exhibits far too many fears to even talk to him about buildings/planes crashing, terrorists (bad guys), and death (we are still working on a fear of hearing a public potty flush), that day will come.

It's a part of motherhood that I never really thought about--tough discussions. Up to this point, I've been able to keep Miles in the dark about so much--bed rest and hospitalizations, pregnancy loss, cancer, great grandparents dying...

But at some point, you begin processing life's obstacles with your children.

Sometimes, I really won't know, and "I don't know" will have to suffice (if Miles comes back and asks what is behind the universe, I may just immediately refer him to an astrophysicist), but other times, I'll have to navigate uncomfortable situations in a manner that is honest. Whether it be procreation, terrorism, death, etc.

My baby is growing up.

Right now...let's focus on what happens to pee and poop once you flush a toilet, mkay?

3 comments:

  1. I think you answered that question perfectly!! Kids know when you're not telling them the real deal - in fact I'm totally a teacher b/c I knew exactly when my Mom didn't tell me the real deal and I thought, "I'm totally going to tell kids the real deal when they ask me."
    Miles will come back many times with varying degrees of comprehension. Heck, my 5th graders still don't "really" get it. Don't worry. You've got time to get the right answer :) Until then, keep being your honest self :)

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  2. Rebecca is right, and you did great, Alison.
    I would add to your "why" answers #3. "Because..." Parents are driven to this by clever and persistent children! Another time for the philosophical questions is bedtime - be prepared. In that case it's a ploy to engage Mom or Dad for as long as possible. The insightful questions make us marvel at the intelligence of young children and provide plenty of good stories to share!
    The important thing to remember is that their cognitive abilities are often more advanced than their emotional ability to process information. It helps to be honest and truthful (an honest "I don't know" is fine) but be brief and succinct. There are times like the events of 9-11 when it is a kindness to shield young children. As Rebecca writes, critical topics come up again and again as children mature and absorb information on different developmental levels. There is no need to burden an already fearful 3 year old (it's an age for fears) with additional worries.

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  3. You are an awesome mom - I'm not worried about you navigating the years and conversations ahead with your boys! And, I'll likely be asking you how you handled things when I get there:)

    I have to say though, all I could think on 9/11 as I watched some of the events was the same as you...someday he'll be old enough to learn about it, and how will I ever help him understand? But, I really don't think I'll be able to - 9/11 will be to him as JFK's assassination is to me (tragic history, but distant). Anyway, we'll face many unknowns with these boys I know, and we'll just do the best we can. I always tell kids that mistakes aren't just okay, they're required...so I'll be working on believing that too!

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