We picked Boy #1 up from school on foot today. Won't be doing that again, oh no...
I was pushing Boy #2 in his buggy, and a visiting friend was supervising Boy #1 and asking pertinent questions about his day. As we reached the Kings Road a rather large gentleman turned down the road we were just walking out of.
Boy #1, at the top of his voice, announced in an interested and informative tone: "Look! Look! A REALLY faaaaaat man!"
How to deal with this? He spoke the truth. The man was fat - remarkably so. You would notice him walking down the street, no doubt about it. But good manners mean that this is not something to be mentioned.
For some reason (and it's not particularly relevant, but it makes a good side-story so indulge me) it reminds me of the time, around 20 years ago when one of my co-workers was wearing one of those 'body' suits that were all the rage. You know, the ones that looked like a tight-fitting top tucked into your skirt / trousers, and which were usually worn under a jacket with padded shoulders (Miami Vice-tastic). The hidden 'extras' were the attractive baby-gro flaps that kept the top so smooth and wrinkle free and which popped together 'down below'. Good idea if you liked the body-conscious look. But bloody uncomfortable, as I remember, and if they were the slightest bit tight, required some interesting contortions in the loo to refasten them... Donna Karan has a lot to answer for (apparantly they were her invention).
Anyway, how did we know my colleague was wearing one of these contraptions? Because clearly, when attending to her toilette, she had failed to master the popper mechanism, and the back of the suit was hanging down over the top of her skirt.
We could all see it. We all knew that if that were us, we would want to be told. But nobody could quite bring themselves to mention it. I finally plucked up the courage to tell her at around 3.00pm, and when she returned from her red-faced rush to the ladies and asked how long it had been visible, I lied heroically and said I had only noticed it in the last few minutes. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Nothing would have been gained by adding to her mortification had she realised it had been an all day baby-gro situation...
So anyway, as usual I digress. Back to our children and their absence of a filter between brain and mouth. Or is that just 5 year olds? Or, in fact, just my 5 year old?
If you are anything like me, the adage 'seen and not heard' is not used in your house. Our children are people, and as such are encouraged to say what they are thinking. Politely, yes, in a timely manner, yes, but we want to know. We want open lines of communication rather than stunted silence (though every now and again a little quiet would be welcome), untrammelled creativity (well, untrammelled as long it involves paper rather than the walls, floor, or material furnishings), and above all we want to foster an eager curiosity in the world around them.
Which means, as every parent knows, you have to take the rough with the smooth, roll with the punches, and deal with interesting questions about nipples and why men have them as well women, for example. (That was tonight's bathtime poser. Anyone know the answer, by the way?)
I might prefer that sometimes they did it less loudly, less emphatically, or with less whining, but I want my sons to ask questions and to comment on the world around them. It's an important part of their growing up.
Which takes me back to this afternoon. What would you do in response to Boy #1's remark? As tempting as a swift clip round the side of the head might have seemed at the time, I chose to stop the buggy and very briefly - and matter of factly - discuss with him why commenting on someone's weight was not really a very polite thing to do.
And then, once my sons' backs were turned, I'm afraid to say my friend and I cracked up.
Kids. What a joy.