With my youngest being nearly 7, I think it’s starting to hit me how precious and fleeting innocent little-kid conversations are, before they start to censor their thoughts and words. I find myself trying to draw out these conversations and linger on them as much as I can before they mature and change, from innocent and honest to schooled and guarded.
These are our stories. Duh-duhn. (A little shout-out to “Law & Order” there if you didn’t catch it.)
The other night I was watching a cartoon with Boy #3 (“Adventure Time” if you’re a Cartoon Network connoisseur, or just have boys like me). He was sitting on my lap, and while he was watching TV he was stroking my hair and pushing it behind my ears. In the episode, a crazy dragon-ish creature in the middle of a labyrinth was granting wishes to Finn (the heroic boy), Jake (his magical dog/BFF) and some little hot dog soldiers (Yes, it’s a weird show). Pretty soon Boy #3 turned to me and in all sincerity said, “If I had one wish I would wish that you were a prettier mommy.”
The thing is, I knew he meant it as a compliment. And the fact that he wanted to waste his only wish on me made me fight the urge to be a teensy bit insulted even harder. I know that little boys love their mommies, and little boys love for their mommies to be pretty. For Boy #3, putting my hair behind my ears transforms me from Plain Mommy to Pretty Princess Mommy. (I really have no idea why showing my ears makes me prettier in his eyes, but it’s obviously his thing. It could definitely be worse!) I know he already considers me pretty (I think all little boys are born with rose-colored corneas when it comes to their mommies) and making me “prettier” was his gift to me. I’ll take that.
Tonight after reading “Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend” with Boy #3 before bed, we read the blurb about the author and illustrator on the back flap. Knowing that he loves to draw and also make up elaborate action sequences for his Pokemon and action figures, I asked Boy #3 if he was going to write a book when he grows up.
“No, I’m going to be a cop,” he said.
Oh, yeah. How could I have forgotten that he had dressed up like a cop for Career Day at school earlier this month? (“Do cops get to carry knives?” he asked me as I was dropping him off at school that day.)
“So what are you going to do when you’re a cop?” I asked him.
“Save people,” he answered.
“Will you save me?” I asked, ready for nearly every answer except the one I was given.
“Unless you’re dead.”
Taken aback at this response, delivered in such a matter-of-fact tone, I said, “I won’t be dead. Why would I be dead?”
“Well, you might be,” he said.
And he was right. I might be. And apparently if you’re dead you don’t need saving. I guess that just plain makes sense.