Sometimes as a parent, you have to have important conversations with your kids about life lessons, or science, or whatever happens to come up in the course of your day. When your children are two, you just never know what’s going to show up on your conversation agenda du jour. You might have a day loosely planned around naps, meals, swinging, and eating Goldfish crackers, and you just don’t know what kind of “teachable moments” are going to pop up in the midst of that. Today, I’m pretty proud of the important lesson I taught The Enforcer. As I was putting her down for a nap, she had her finger in her ear, and this is the conversation we had:
Enforcer: “My ear hurts.”
Me: “I’m sorry.”
Enforcer: “Maybe have tune-it in ear.”
Me: “Maybe have what?”
Enforcer: “Tune-it. From lunch. In sandwich. Maybe have tune-it in ear.”
Me (red and teary-eyed after turning away to choke back the laughter): “Did you put tune-it, I mean tuna, in your ear?”
Enforcer: “Maybe. Sometimes get tune-it in ear. That’s okay.”
Me (after inspecting the perfectly-fine-looking ear): “Yeah. I guess. Well, no, I mean, it’s not okay. You shouldn’t ever put anything in your ear. Not even tune-it. I mean tuna. Okay good-night!”
Captain Chaos (quietly, to herself): “Tune-it. Teeheehee. Tune-it.”
So there you have it. Bam. I can get out my Being a Good Mom Instruction Manual and check off that super-important life lesson about not putting stuff in your ears.
Sometimes though, the tables get turned. Sometimes, the two-year-olds like to teach ol’ smartypants Mommy and Daddy a thing or two that they know about life.
The other night, we had a little thunderstorm. It was after dinner and the twins and I were sitting together watching the lightning out the window and listening for the bangs and cracks. They weren’t scared. They felt a little nervous about it, but they were really curious. My husband suggested that we all go sit on the porch so we could see the lightning better, and the girls were all about it. So I grabbed The Baby and we all went and sat on the porch. There was that energizing and rustly kind of cool breeze that comes with summer thunderstorms, and it was fun experiencing a commonplace event with little people who don’t see it as commonplace at all. They’re still so young that a thunderstorm fills them with wonder. The Baby, however, was just filled with tired, hungry crankiness, so I took her inside to get ready for bed.
Later, when all the kids were asleep, my husband told me about the conversation he’d had with the girls after I went inside. He said that he was telling them all about what causes thunder and lightning (and I kind of wanted to be like, “Which is what, exactly?” because I honestly can’t remember all that science-y stuff sometimes but it was like 9:00 at night and I didn’t really care that I was an ignorant fool at that point).
He was telling them about the causes of thunder and lightning, knowing that they didn’t really understand everything he was saying, but were listening closely and even nodding a little bit as he explained it (which is exactly what I would have done, had he explained it to me). When he finished, The Enforcer took a moment to give this highly scientific information some thoughtful consideration. Then she looked up at him, with her huge serious eyes, and said,
“Go out in the rain, get wet.”
Bam. There you go, Daddy. She knows about some stuff too. If you go out in the rain, you’re going to get wet. And honestly, I bet you’d be surprised how many people don’t seem to fully understand that concept. Especially if you think of it as a metaphor. So on behalf of The Enforcer, a surprisingly wise source of valuable life lessons, you’re welcome.
And don’t put tune-it, I mean tuna, in your ear. That one’s from me.