Monday, December 24, 2007

Memories...Like the Corners of My Mind

Two stories of a three-year-old's interpretation of reality.

Story One - A Hairy Moment at McDonald's

This past Saturday, we helped some friends load up a U-Haul truck as they set off for a new life in Alabama. Afterward, Susan and I decided we would take the kids to McDonald's to play. When we arrived, it was getting close to lunch time, and the play place was filling up. Emilie Grace is our three-year-old, and she has become quite fond of play places. She has also become capable of getting up and down to any point in the climbing apparatus. So, when we arrived, we didn't think twice about letting her go.

After about five minutes, Emilie began to cry and ran to us holding her head. When asked what was wrong, she said, "I bonk my head!" We held her and clarified her version of the story. Apparently, she tripped and hit her head on the end of the slide. After the crying finished, I asked if she wanted to get down. With tears still on her cheeks and a smile on her face, she said, "Yeah!" So, I let her go.

Emilie began to run and play again, and that's when she met Joshua. She ran past the little boy, who was probably between 18 months and 2 years old. Emilie's running was quickly halted, and she was jerked backwards because Joshua had grabbed onto her hair with both hands. Susan darted over and scooped up our little girl. Joshua's dad was there in a flash, trying to explain that "you can't do that." Another moment of parental comfort led to Emilie smiling through tears and affirming that she was prepared to get down. This time, she would stay with Caleb.

Another five minutes pass, and then we hear more screaming. It's Emilie...again! Looking toward the plastic wonderland, we see Joshua's dad banging on a piece of clear plastic yelling, "Joshua...stop! Joshua...stop!" I jump into action and got up in the thing myself, squirming and excusing myself past elementary and preschool children. I finally got to where the conflict occurred, and I got Emilie out of there. As I did, I noticed a clump of blond hair among the children. I grabbed it, so I could show Susan how serious this was.

Well, as Joshua's dad was taking him to the play place bathroom for corporal punishment, we held Emilie once again. This time, she couldn't seem to calm down. She kept trying to say something. We listened carefully and thought we heard, "I want my hair beret." wasn't in her hair, so we had Caleb go after it. He came back, and we asked for confirmation that the hair beret was what she wanted. She said, "I not want my hair beret." Then, she went back into repeatedly saying what she did want.

Finally, after several wrong phrases, I asked, "Emilie, are you saying you want your hair back?" She looked at me and said, "Yeah...I want my hair back." Susan picked up the clump of hair and asked if that's what she wanted. "Yeah...I want my hair back." So, Susan put the hand with the hair on the back of her head, dropped the clump, and stroked her hair. She asked, "Is that better?" There it was...the tears on the cheeks...the smile on her face. "Yeah, dat's better." And off she went to play again...once we were assured that Joshua was going to stay in Mom's lap for the rest of their meal.

Three-year-old reality: "Mom can do anything...even put hair back once Joshua, a hair terrorist, pulls it out."

Story Two - Scolding Turned to Suppressed Laughter

Yesterday, we traveled to Murfreesboro, TN (about 45 minutes away), to have Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Our two boys love playing with their cousins, Mia and Bella. From the moment we get there until the moment we leave, all four of them are usually found together.

In the midst of the gifts that were given, Caleb got episodes 4, 5, and 6 of Star know, the old ones that aren't as intense as episodes 1, 2, and 3. Austin got some Thomas the Train toys, and he was crazy about them. Emilie Grace got a little Dora the Explorer radio with headphones...she wore them around her belly for much of the day.

Well, Mia is a little tomboy, and she got a race car track as one of her gifts yesterday. Our Emilie, having been taught well by her older brothers, immediately took to it and began playing with the cars. Every time Mia would come close to her touch it or to watch Emilie...our little angel would give a great big "NO!" After a warning from mom, Emilie continued in her three-year-old ways. "NO!" Here Mia comes again... "NO!"

Susan had enough. She walked over to scold Emilie with great intensity. She had the look of a stern mother, finger prepared to point, and voice prepared to scold. She began explaining to Emilie that this was not her toy. "It's Mia's toy. If Mia wants to play with it, then she can. You cannot be selfish. You need to say 'sorry' to Mia."

Emilie had looked at Susan during this scolding. She had that look like she might actually be listening. Her mouth opens to respond. Could it be? Will this be the breakthrough we had hoped for? Emilie began to speak, and the scolding quickly turned to suppressed laughter. Our three-year-old's response to mom's correction was this: " dat her name?"

Three-year-old reality: "All scolding seems to sound the same, but at least I learned my cousin's name this time. After all, we were never formally introduced."

I hope these stories made you laugh. Susan and I laughed out loud at both of them. Merry Christmas.