Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Once bitten, twice shy.

I know better than to talk to Joseph about any kind of injury. He will obsessively talk about it forever. For example, he is still talking about his burn, even though he doesn’t even remember which hand it was. It has actually made him curious (I’ll use curious, because although he is often downright frightened, it isn’t always the case) about anything that might be “hot.” Everything metal is “hot.” His bath water is always “hot.” Every food item that has ever been cooked, no matter how long ago is “hot.” The oven, of course, is hot as well as the dishwasher, the heat vent, and the vacuum cleaner. The word “hot” is often followed by the word “burn” and then sometimes “doctor” or “hurt” or something like that. And last week, Tony cut his finger while washing a knife (yes, Jim, you know which kind of knife) and had to wear a band-aid. Every time Joseph saw it, he got a worried look and would say, “hurt.” He also talks about his immunizations that happened a month ago as well as the time he bumped his head on the wall. He even made up an injury once. He saw a girl walking down the street, and out of the blue, he said, “hurt.” When I asked him who got hurt, he said, “girl.” I asked him if she fell down, and he nodded his head. (By the way, she didn’t fall down. I could see her.) I asked her where she got hurt, and he said, “belly.” Strange.

So, I know not to fuel this fire. His mind is occupied enough with all of his worries. But I couldn’t help it the other day. One thing that is really confusing to me as a parent is how to deal with all of the cutesy, cartoon images of animals and other things that sometimes in real life aren’t so adorable. Joseph will point out a hippo or a snake or an alligator, and say, “cute.” And sure, the pictures are cute, I agree. But would he even recognize some of them in real life? And if he did, would he want to grab it? Usually I just let it go, of course, but do you know how many pictures there are of bees in young children’s books? Why are there so many bees? And why do they always look so friendly? Joseph, of course loves them. Or should I say, loved them. We were reading yet another book with adorable bees, and Joseph told me they were “cute.” I couldn’t help myself, and I said, “Yes, they are cute. But you don’t want to make them mad, or you could get hurt.” That was it. That’s all I had to say. Now when we see a picture of a bee, he doesn’t automatically say, “cute.” Instead he says, “hurt.” The other day we weren’t even looking at a picture of a bee, he just got a worried look on his face, almost started to cry, and said, “hurt.” “What hurts?” I asked. “Bee.” He answered. I’ve since tried to take it back by explaining and telling him that they are in fact cute. But he’s no dummy. I can take the stinger out, but I can’t change the fact that he got stung. Just like I can’t undo his burn, or his bumped head, or Tony’s cut finger. As he grows up and learns more about life, the best I can do is comfort him when he experiences some of its disappointments, and hopefully I’ll be able to resist my constant urge to protect and explain, and experience some of the “cute” things as well.


Blogger Autumn said...

aren't kids the funniest?

whenever i tell mine not to touch something he'll ask "hot?" and even if it's not i'll just usually say "yeah, hot" to get him to keep his mitts off. i know half ass parenting :) works like a charm!

12:19 PM  
Anonymous guh! said...

Amber is right, kids do say the funniest things. And as a grandfather said to me years ago, sometimes it almost sounds as if they know what they are talking about! These are the cosmic years, when they often seem so much wiser than we are.

11:16 AM  

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