As a baby, Lila’s ability to babble to herself and stay amused was uncanny, adorable and welcomed. Her days were filled with an incessant string of nonsense kind of like Charlie Brown’s teacher (wah wah wah wah), but all cute and baby-like.
Around the age of two she took strong command of her words and began to replace the indecipherable chatter with carefully selected conversation. And now that she is the ripe old age of three and a half, this former background noise is now a never-ending project. Tylor and I are Lila’s information highway and we are
well-travelled and often suffering from gridlock.
Lila: Wow! The moon is a whole circle. I didn’t know it was a circle this year. I only saw it cracked open before. Where do the cracked off pieces go?
Me: Um…well, the sun spins around, no wait…the moon is always whole and the pieces don’t actually crack off. So, there’s this thing called the solar system…. *forehead slap*
Come on! Pull it together, Mommy! Lila just stared blankly at me and waited eagerly to gather every piece of information I was about to hand off. I could have just made something up, but I owed her more than that, so we talked about orbiting and the sun and Earth and whether or not any of it sunk in, or if she was even capable of understanding, I was as thorough as I could be because she asked.
This is the same logic we’ve always applied to words. It is not a buh-buh, it’s a bottle. Don’t ta-ta, just hand it to me, please. It’s not a pee-pee, it’s a vagina (much to Tylor’s horror of course). Side note: It is a most hilarious situation when you come home from work to find your husband really in need of a hug after he had to use the
V word and the P word while explaining that Lila’s vagina would never be long…you know, like Daddy’s. I’m certain a small part of him died that day, but even still it was a valuable conversation to help Lila understand how she fits into her little world.
Our insistence on proper words comes back to haunt, naturally. Lila corrects us if we call the Jeep a car, or if we call it a sweater instead of a hoodie. And on more than one occasion she has schooled me hard for not saying please. Fair enough. Right is right.
When she uses words like permission, appropriate and correct it’s baffling and wonderful. I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising when she re-uses the words we give her, but we’re always amazed at her ability to apply them correctly. I’ll admit I was even a little proud of her when she correctly used an f-bomb in a sentence…I’m the worst.
Last night, while tucking Lila into bed, she started asking questions about bees after having watched Bee Movie. Super, I know a ton about bees, er…
Lila: Do bees talk to humans?
Me: No, that’s just pretend for the movie.
Lila: I know that, Mommy. But movie bees talk to humans, don’t they?
Me: Yes, I suppose they do.
Lila: They do. They talk and talk and make friends with humans and then they just act like bees.
As you can see, I learn a lot from Lila as well. Coupled with her hunger for words, is a wild and beautiful imagination. She once told me that I should have a headband in my short hair because they are baby headbands before they are ponytails.
I admit, coming up with an answer to “what does my blood do all day?” isn’t easy, but it forces us to question what we think we know and wonder how this world actually operates. And the challenge is not only in getting the information, but in delivering it in a way that is fairly accurate to a little girl who believes that movie bees just hang out with movie humans all day. She learns, you learn. It’s a cool side effect of parenting.
Even when you are adamant that you don’t have the time to properly answer the 572nd question your child has asked you that day, you’re going to wish you did when she says, “Aunt Gertrude? Mommy said you’re old and crazy and that’s why you have a beard like Daddy.”