So, I’m making dinner, and my six year-old, Hannah, is in the kitchen with me, as I have granted her the rare “yes” to her 73rd request to play on my computer.
This is a child who says sweet, adorable 1st grade things such as “Mommy, will you play fairy with me?” and performs ballads in the living room that go: “My best friend is Katie, oh Katie, won’t you come over to play dolls and babies with me?” She takes the care and feeding of her stuffed animals very seriously, and carts two stuffed puppies back and forth to school every day in her backback. She’s still little.
So I helped her choose a game on an appropriately educational kids’ website, and she happily bounced along to the strains of cute little girl computer game music while playing a game that involved teddy bears skipping from stone to stone down a garden path. As I cooked spaghetti and seasoned the sauce for our dinner, my little blonde clicked and arrowed and moused nearby. She uttered occasional exclamations of virtual stuffed pet gaming delight, like “Yay!” and “Oh! I earned two lollipops!”
I enjoyed her contentedness and company. I marveled at her still almost, but not quite, babyish self, and wistfully thought about how fast the years are whizzing by. But she’s still interested in path-skipping pink teddy bears instead of Cute Boy chat rooms, and I’ll appreciate that for as long as it lasts.
Her computer bear missed a hop and instead of landing on a garden stone, splashed into a pond. So she “lost” a bear. Her patter — which was constant — took a sudden turn from the lyrical “Teddy, Teddy, skipping down the path,” to a single, loud, self-disgusted exclamation of: “Oh! Boobs.”
I reacted as any responsible parent would. I convulsed into fits of uncontrollable laughter. I made it worse by attempting to deal with her inappropriate word choice before I had actually caught my breath.
“WHERE did you hear that?! (stifle, snort) It’s NOT okay for you to say that!” (giggle, look for the phone so I can call my brother immediately so he can laugh too, continue losing control while trying to say her name in a proper parental, disciplinary manner.)
Sometimes I don’t handle things well. Sometimes I don’t even try.