Claire and I had a couple of days all to ourselves this week while Joel traveled. Though I always worry if she’s going to be bummed out that she’s stuck with me when he’s not here, we had a great time. The first night we curled up on the couch and watched So You Think You Can Dance – we still haven’t seen the finale, so shhhhhh – and the second night we went out to dinner with my friend Erin and her twin six-year-old girls. Claire is just enough older that she feels responsible for big sistering them, and Erin and I are both grateful that they get along well enough that we can just sit back and have friend time when we’re all together.
There were many moments of silliness in those two days. We played a rhyming game over dinner one night. We looked at pictures of antique beds and “old times” people on Google images. Poor Cooper was wrapped in more than one winter scarf.
Not that I think he minds all that much. He didn’t even protest the sunglasses she made him wear right after this. (Photo on Instagram, if you’re dying to see a pitbull in sunglasses.)
In between all the fun, though, were some very sobering moments. Some, “holy crap this kid is too young to be thinking about these things what in the heck am I supposed to say” sorts of things. “Amanda,” she would say, more tentative than the times she wants to make me choose between, like, bananas and grasshoppers as my favorite snack. Each and every time I reply “Yes, Claire?” And when it’s serious she starts the sentence with “welllllll…I was just wondering…” and then out comes something new and very serious she’s wrestling with.
Last week our sweet male cat Toby had a urinary obstruction that led to hospitalization. When he got home, he spent a lot of time licking his junk, which was probably sore from the catheter. Toby licking his junk spurred a lot of talk about male/female anatomy. Claire doesn’t like to have these conversations with Joel in the room, so she’ll find me wherever I am, close the door, and ask me questions until she’s embarrassed and runs away.
In addition to lady parts and boy parts, in the last seven days we have also talked about:
- Whether or not it’s okay to get homesick when you’re at a sleepover.
- Whether or not it’s okay to have one best friend that is more of a best friend than other people, even if you only see that best friend at recess and are worried she won’t always be your best friend.
- How sad it is that some people cannot afford houses and don’t have family or friends to help.
- How sad it is that some people with differently colored skin don’t have the same advantages as us.
- How sad it is that some places don’t have enough water and how droughts kill animals and plants.
- How sad it is, sometimes, to watch people cut up meat, because we think about how it used to be an animal and killing animals is sad, and maybe it would be okay to be a vegetarian if only we didn’t have to give up salami.
You guys, that’s a lot of -isms to cover in a short period of time. My guess is that the entire third grade is struggling with these things right now, and I want Claire to be able to ask me anything, even if it makes me squirm. I definitely don’t want her learning about racism from another eight year old, you know? But I’m also super sensitive about the fact that she’s only eight. I want to always tell her the truth, but there’s only so much truth you can ingest at that age.
I’m in completely new territory and am definitely muddling through. Any stories you want to share about your own experiences are very, very welcome!