Miss A (the 5-year-old) has been obsessed today with a little question. She has spent two hours following me around the house and asking it. I decided she was being persistent enough that I might ought to answer her or it could go on all day. Here's the question...
"Mommy, how do you know that Miss O is a girl?"
See why I was ignoring it now? I wasn't in the mood to have this conversation with a 5-year-old this morning. Really, I'm surprised she hasn't asked it sooner with all the boy cousins she has and all. My response...
"The same way I know that you are a girl!"
That's right, I am very clever, and vague, and elusive.
"By my hair? By my clothes? By my voice? I don't know, how do you know I'm a girl?"
Now at this point, I'm thinking, all of those things could be true. If I didn't know she was a girl and I saw her for the first time, based on all the above, I would assume she was a girl. Maybe that was all she wanted to know. Maybe that will do for now. Just answer yes.
(Please don't judge my parenting based on the rest of this post. I know it is my responsibility to have this conversation and someday I will. I'm just trying to see how much she is really asking so I don't give her too much information that she isn't asking for!)
I'll just see if she can figure it out for herself. You know, I'm not really the spoon-feeder-type of teacher.
"Think about when you take a bath. What part do you have that means you're a girl?"
What a ridiculous response you might think. How is she going to figure that out? Well, I'm from the school of thought that a 5-year-old or less does not need to be actually saying the correct anatomical terms. Because I know a little girl who actually used the V-word at a very young age and there was always something not-quite-right about it to me. Call me old-fashioned. I like innocence. Anyway, in our family, they are called "girly parts." I thought she would figure out very quickly the part she washes that means she is a girl would be her "girly parts." I overestimated her brain power on this particular day.
"My legs? My arms? My belly?"
Um, hello? Anyone home? I thought that, didn't say it. After guessing every body part, she finally got around to it. Then, we had to explain that boys don't have girly parts, they have boy parts to which she spent much time trying to figure out how to add an -y to the end to sound like boy-y parts like girl-y parts. It wasn't working quite like she wanted it to. She's clearly fascinated with words.
As she was pondering how to make the word sound the way she wanted it to, I was feverishly praying over what to say next. How much is too much? Is she really old enough for this information?
She says, "So, me and Miss C, and Miss O, and You, have girly parts and Daddy has boy-y parts?"
Here's the part where I wait for questions about what they look like, how are they different, or Lord have mercy, why?, etc. She replies with this...
"Okay. (pause) Mommy, does God rest at night?"
Now that is a questions I can answer. Thank you Lord! Clearly, our ever-so-anatomically-correct discussion has satisfied her current questions. I'm thinking, God, thank you for preserving her innocence just a little longer, and thank you that you do not rest at night! I might need you at night sometime when her questions get a little more grown-up than I am ready for them to be!
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