Sunday, April 6, 2008

Feminine Mystique

Great! Just when I think I've lulled our neighbors into thinking we're semi-normal people, I pick tonight to decide that I can't wait another evening to exfoliate my pores with facial masque, and within minutes the doorbell rings, my husband is too involved in a computer game with my son to answer, and when the bell rings AGAIN, I have to slink the door with a glowing white face. Obviously, we have a reputation to keep up! (Scroll down)

But now the main topic at hand, in which I muse upon the mind of a certain four year old. The thing is, at this age, they seem to vacillate between amusing (or infuriating) inscrutability and delightful transparency. Example of the former: I drove today to pick up Ian from a playdate, and brought Eliza along for the ride (we logged lots of quality time today; she had a cold so I kept her home from our church meeting and we lounged on the bed and read the most charming Happy Little Family from cover to cover, plus walked in the sunshine and let her talk to me in her slow, deliberate way without getting drowned out by her louder, faster-talking siblings). As we neared his friend's house, I commented on the narrowness of the road. "What's 'narrow' mean, Mama?" she asked. "It means, 'thin,' honey. Not wide." "Oh. Like I am thin." (Oh good, she still thinks so; I dread the day when she believes otherwise!) Pause. "ESPECIALLY ... my little toe." You know? Those logical leaps -- they're dazzling!

Example of the latter: Eliza is very into determining whether things are "true" or not. If we read a story, she always asks me, "Is that TRUE?" I think what she means is, "is that a work of fiction or nonfiction? Fact or fantasy?" so I try to answer her at that level, but of course there's a part of me, the English major part I suppose, that always wants to point out that the question is much more complex. The story of Charlotte's Web, for example, can't really be TRUE, since as far as we know animals don't talk to each other and spiders can't spin words into their webs. But though the premise may be somewhat fantastical, the story, as all good works of fiction (and art/music/etc.) do, illuminates some universal truths about the human experience (the nature of love, loyalty, friendship, sacrifice, community) that are just a different breed of "true" than the simple fact that water freezes when its temperature hits zero Celsius ("true," in the mind of a four year old.) At this point, I'm holding my tongue, though. For everything there is a season. But anyway, a couple days ago we were listening to the "A, You're Adorable" song as we pulled into a parking lot and I anointed the kids' ears ;-) by caroling along at unapologetic volume. As I helped Eliza from her carseat I sang to her, "U, you make my life complete, V means you're Very sweet ..." She lit up and asked me eagerly, "Mom, is that song TRUE?"

I was happy to assure her, with no ambivalence whatsoever, that the song was indeed, in all senses of the word, true.

1 comment:

Tracee said...

How Suh-Weet! :)