I was passing by the park the other day and overheard two 5 year-olds talking. A little boy was saying to a little girl: “I don’t know if I should accept your apology. Cause if you don’t mean it, and I’ve accepted it, then you could just turn around and do the same thing again, and then I’ve said sorry. So I’m going to have to think about it.” I thought this was pretty genius/hysterical reasoning, especially for a five year old. The little girl looked utterly confused and surprised that her actions were being taken so seriously.
Kids crack me up to no end, and as I’ve said before, I’ve spent a great amount of time with them be it being around my nieces and nephews (who are of course all amazing – I’m biased but they truly are) or looking after kids over the years. And actually, I think I prefer most kids to adults: they're smart, they have no baggage, and they see the world in that untainted unique way that only kids can. It quickly becomes apparent that all the clichés are pretty much true: they’re amazing, loveable, charming, challenging, maddening, and will of course come out with statements that are pure gems just as you’re considering selling them at the local market (you know, on those tough days).
I recently broke the news to this little boy that I looked after for several years that I was expecting a baby. This wasn’t easy as he was always my main man, and didn’t he know it. He used to greet me at the door stark naked with a nonchalant look and a slight nod (he was a cool customer) and then summon me to go play computer games with him. Just like a man. So anyway, after trying to explain there was a child in my stomach, he looked at me very skeptically and proclaimed that if indeed there were a person in my stomach I would’ve told him sometime ago that I had eaten a baby…point taken.
The other thing about children that always astounds me is how smart they are, so much smarter than we ever give them credit for. And trust me, they understand everything. A friend of mine has an 18 month old that has a vocabulary that rivals most adults. I’m not kidding you. He’ll throw out two/three syllable words like they’re nothing and you’re left staring at him in utter awe. I then attempted to read one of his favorite animal books to him. He proceeded to point out and say everyone animal in there. And I’m not talking about giraffes and lions, I’m talking about the rare and complicated animals like the marmot, hairy-nosed wombat, or you know, the tamaraw….the what??
Then of course there is the charm. My one-year old nephew already knows how to work a situation to his advantage. He’ll give you this look as if to say, I know I’m going to win this battle, and then smile, bat his eyelashes and throw his head back gently as if to say, ‘but please, go ahead and try to go against me.’ Then of course just as you’re losing your patience, he’ll come and plant an open mouthed wet kiss on your face and you can’t help but swoon.
My other nephew, who is 9, is this great mix of rambunctious boy and adorable sensitivity that I hope beyond hope that he holds onto. He asks how my day was, was my flight enjoyable, and then out of nowhere, he’ll place his hands on my face and tell me he loves me. I tell you, I’m putty in this boy’s hands. He’s also a little Casanova at school. At one point he was juggling two girlfriends, but explained that he had to get rid of one cause she talked too much. The man only has so much time for chit-chat apparently.
The other thing that amuses me to no end is when kids discover – and attempt - the art of negotiation. I am quickly brought back to the days when I did the exact same thing myself. And now watching from the other side, suddenly I’m compelled to pick up the phone and apologize to my mother profusely. My niece is on the cusp of teenage hood and all that it entails. I was present to witness her latest campaign for high heels (I’m talking millimeters here) – and it was an all out assault of protestations, in depth reasoning, and then of course flat out begging. When that failed, and she was only allowed a certain miniscule height on a sensible shoe, her mother was deemed an ogre who is so unfair and never says yes to anything. Oh the injustice!! My sister and I look at each other and struggle to contain our laughter as we both have mutual flashbacks of our surly teenage selves telling our mother the same exact thing over god knows what.
I think this is the truly the beauty and irony of life. What goes around comes around, and if you think you can avoid it when you become a parent, forget it, it’s coming whether you like it or not. I can only brace myself to think what I’m in for with the little man inside of me – cause if he’s anything like I was as a teen, I’m in real trouble. For now, I shall practice all my stock phrases in preparation, you know the ones: ‘cause I’m your mother; because I said so; no means no; if you ask one more time, you can just forget it.’
I think I can almost hear my mother laughing all the way from California.