One of the best feelings in the world is to be out with your child and have them do something in public that you’ve taught them to do. Something that you can smile and look knowingly at whomever is around nodding your head saying, “Yup, that’s MY kid.” I pride myself on having very polite kids (at least the speaking one). At the mall playground the other day she cozied up to a little girl who was struggling to pull her shoes off while her mom tended to her younger sibling and she said to her, “Here, sweetie, let me help you with those.” The mom looked over at me and said, “Wow, she’s so sweet!”. Unable to completely accept a compliment, I said, “Yeah, right NOW she is… things can change quickly with her though!”. But inside, I was glowing. My girl IS sweet.
But then there are the times that your child does something that hurl you in the OPPOSITE direction. Things that you try to defend, try to look puzzled by because you want to make it clear that you did NOT teach your child to do/say that. If you have a 4 year old, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve experienced, “Mommy, is that a man or a lady?” coming out of Hannah’s mouth much too loudly. The salesperson looked at me after she asked the question and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. And I couldn’t even answer Hannah because I had no idea myself. She’s also shouted out, “Look at her HERMENDOUS boobies mommy!”. I would have hoped that the lady with the “hermendous” boobies would have laughed since she was in no way shy about them, but she shook her head at me as if I should do a better job controlling my kid’s mouth. This 4-year-old-filter problem is very common. But my 4 year old does something else that she makes very public and usually throws me leaving me digging for an explanation.
Hannah is obsessed with car brands. When we got our new car she was interested in knowing what the “L” on the front of it stood for. And when I told her she then asked what the “label” on the front of every other car stood for. She now knows pretty much every car type and shouts them out as we drive down the street or walk through a parking lot. I wouldn’t call it cute. I’d call it freaky. She also makes up little riddles for cars. For instance she said recently, “Mommy, do you know what kind of car I should drive?”
“No, what kind of car?”
“A Ford! Because I’m Four!”
And then, “Mommy, what kind of car do you think would be the most FUN to drive?”
Assuming she was not thinking of a convertible BMW to feel the wind blowing her hair back, I asked, “What?”
“A TOYota! Because it’s like a Toy!”
There’s more, but I won’t bore you with them.
I can handle this strange interest of hers inside my house or in OUR car but last week when I was picking her up from school and we were walking down the sidewalk behind a woman wearing a hoodie sweater with a big peace symbol on the back. Hannah caught up to her, looked up at her and said, “Hi!” (and I was beaming to myself watching my little friendly daughter). And then she went on to say, “I LOVE your Mercedes sweater!”.
“My Mercedes sweater?” the lady asked confused.
“Yeah, you have a big Mercedes sign on your back! It’s pretty!”
The mom looked back at me with a look of disbelief. Mind you, Hannah goes to a very liberal, very “green”, proudly alternative preschool. Teaching our kids brand names of cars and the symbols that go with them is not a top priority in this environment.
“I don’t know where she gets it from.” I meekly said to the other mom. “She just, likes cars”.
I don’t know why I was so embarrassed. It just seemed so superficial. So unimportant. Why couldn’t she have said, “Oh, I love your peace sign… I agree, we should all find more peace within ourselves.” That would have made me proud.
Also recently we were at a holiday party and all of the kids were playing outside by the driveway where all the cars were parked. Hannah looked over and yelled, “HEY! Who drives the Chevy??” Not that she knows the value or expense of different cars (she judges all cars on color and how pretty the name sounds) but it sounded to the crowd that she was putting down the Chevy driver. It got a laugh (because it was our friends) but again, it did not make me proud. And I just said to the other parents sarcastically, “what can I say, she knows what is important in life. Hide your purse, because if she sees it’s not Prada, she may not be your friend.”
I can’t tell Hannah not to talk about cars. It’s innocent enough but I can’t help but think it reflects on me in a negative light. I get very defensive. I laugh it off. But it’s just another one of those parenting things that leaves me wondering, should I be doing something different?