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One of the things about young children is that they say what they see. It is all said with innocence and not ignorance – “out of the mouths of babes” and all that – but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been times when I want the floor to come up and eat me. Unfortunately my child doesn’t come with a volume control switch and when he wants to draw my attention to something he usually points at it or – even worse – he runs over to stand right next to it. Over the last few months his observations have gone up a level as has my own embarrassment.
“Mummy he has funny eyes”
Harry was happily playing with a little boy at the play barn. We were quite some way from the climbing frame they were playing on so he shouted it so that we could hear him. My husband and I were so shocked that we stopped mid sip of our coffee and sat there frozen and speechless. Because of our delayed response Harry thought we hadn’t heard him and shouted it even louder so that most people could now hear him and turn around and look, including the little boy’s parents. To be perfectly honest I have never seen such a bad squint. I was as stunned by that as I was by my son’s outburst. Thinking on my feet – and seeing the mother’s glowering look – the only thing I could come up with was “but aren’t they a beautiful colour”. So lame.
“Mummy that lady has a baby in her belly”
Said at the school nativity play which co-incidentally was the first chance I had to meet and greet some of the parents of the children in his class. The thing is she wasn’t pregnant. There was very little I could do other than say “no sweetheart she isn’t”. I could see his brow furrow as he thought about his next question, so I very quickly made my excuses and we scurried off. I dread the next meeting at schools sports day.
“Mummy that man….”
Is in fact very similar to the situation above although this time we were in Sports Soccer (oh the irony). Coming out of the changing room was a rather large guy in what quite clearly would have been an XXXL sized T-shirt. Luckily I followed my son’s gaze and I was able to intercept the pointing finger and the rest of the sentence. It cost me a pair of Spiderman wellies but that was a small price to pay for distracting him.
But the one that compelled me to write this post happened last weekend.
As a treat, Harry and I went to our local farm shop. We invited along my friend and her daughter. As we walked in to the shop a lady with dwarfism was coming out. My heart sank. I felt his arm start to raise and saw the finger coming out so I took hold of his hand and whipped him past the lady and distracted him with some Easter Eggs that were just inside the doorway. Once inside I gave myself the parenting equivalent of a pat on the back, for I had skilfully averted another embarrassing situation.
I took the children in to the café and ordered the hot chocolates whilst my friend went off to buy some goodies. We found ourselves a table opposite the toilets. The two children were quite animated and chatting away to each other excitedly as they hadn’t seen each other for two weeks. And then the lady returned…….to make matters worse…..she stood right in front of our table……in a queue for the toilets……My heart sank as I just know my son and I knew what was about to happen, and sure enough it did.
“Mummy it is a little lady. She must be very old because she has shrunk”
His friend then looked in the direction that he was pointing and agreed with him (loudly) that she “was a very little lady”. Then they began quizzing me whether she was a big little girl? Or a little big girl? Their little brains were just bursting with one question after another. For a split second I thought I was on one of those candid camera shows. I was sweating. I tried the grown up approach of explaining that some people were smaller than others – but let’s face it they are 3 they don’t DO grown up approaches. In a hushed voice I told them that they didn’t need to comment on everything they saw, but then they asked “why”, I had no answer other than “you just don’t”. Pathetic I know but I was being bombarded from all directions. The only distraction I had was to try and get something up on my mobile phone for them to play with but I couldn’t get a reception on it. Typical!! Harry was starting to engage the other diners by now in case they hadn’t seen her – he wanted them to be as amazed as he was. It was pure head in hands moment. When I was brave enough to look up I was relieved that the looks I was getting were those of pity. Clearly they could see my embarrassment and that I was doing everything I could to explain what was going on. I couldn’t make eye contact with the lady as I just had no words – I honestly just wanted to disappear. I even got the two of them to have a roaring competition as a means of distraction – anything, just anything to make it stop. After what felt like an eternity of waiting we got our hot drinks and for the next 10 minutes there was silence. Much to my relief the Mum of his friend returned to the table, but that was short-lived because they then felt the need to point the lady out to her as well – who by this time was sat at the next table to us!! To the lady’s credit she did not make a thing out of it but that didn’t make the situation any less excruciating. We finished our drinks, paid, and left. The children skipped out without a care in the world, whereas I shuffled out with my head bowed in shame.
I know that as he progresses through life there will be plenty more scenarios that will crop up and more questions I will have to have answers for (even if I make them up). I can’t help that he is inquisitive and I don’t want to stop his curious nature. As I said at the start it isn’t ignorance, it is innocence, on behalf of the child and the parent. One is learning their way in life and the other is learning to guide them through it the best way possible. I just hope that these last few experiences have made me stronger and I am better equipped to deal with them in future. I mean, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right???
Harry’s Honest Mummy x