"Yes, Momma, but I don't understand grass! And I don't understand trees!"
This from the mouth of my almost four year old daughter after she was caught pushing her sister, and after I had spent the prior five minutes explaining to her why it is completely unacceptable do such things. And did she understand what I was telling her?
Sometimes the things that come out of her mouth catch me completely off guard, and leave me gagging and sputtering as I try my hardest to not let her see me laughing hysterically through the hands clenched tightly over my mouth.
Wait a minute, she doesn't understand what?
And where in the world do I go from here?
Would it be best to ignore her earnest declaration about things which genuinely confuse her, and bypass the opportunity to teach her about grass and trees? Do I try to somehow incorporate said grass and trees into my lesson about respecting one another? (Example: The trees and the grass live side by side in harmony. We don't see the trees pushing the grass over in an effort to make it over to the swingset first, now, do we?) Do I call her out on her seemingly sneaky way of avoiding the topic at hand, and firmly tell her that understanding grass and trees has absolutely nothing to do with understanding that violence of any nature is wrong?
Well, today I did none of the above. Normally, I do just ignore these little outbursts that accompany the lack of a filter between the preschoolers brain and mouth. And then as soon as the situation is rectified I run over to the notebook I keep for such occasions and record verbatim every word of our interaction.
But, nope, today I failed miserably at being the calm, cool, and collected parent. After she said this to me, I stood there staring at her in shock for a second or two, and then burst out laughing. I sat down on her bed, pulled her over to me, squeezed her tight, and giggled heartily into her silky blonde hair. It took her a second to recognize that her "talking to" was over, and I don't think she understood at all what was going on, but she sure jumped right in on the excitement when she saw just how happy she had somehow made her Momma.
Sometimes it's the little things that can make the most impact on a child. For the rest of the afternoon she was a complete charmer, trying her hardest to make me laugh again, and attempting to figure out the magic formula that had gotten her out of a scolding and into my arms.
I'm sure I've probably confused her to no end. I'm sure for the next couple of weeks I'm going to have to put up with monkey-like antics and funny faces every time I attempt to correct her for anything. Who knows? I've probably gone and convinced her it's downright hilarious to push her little sister around.
But for today, for the smiles it brought to both of us, for the memory it left indelibly on my mind and in my heart, it was so worth it.
Now, off to figure out how explaining grass and trees can get her to eat her vegetables...
Dear Lord in heaven,
I pray this day thankful for Dana, and the heartwarming sincerity which radiates from every inch of her little four year old self. Thank You for bringing her into my life, for trusting me with her life, and for enriching the lives of everyone in this family with her innocence and candor. She is nothing short of a blessing, Lord, and a blessing which could only have been created and molded by You.
Help us to raise her to embrace what makes her unique, to teach her that it's okay to ask questions when she doesn't understand, but to do so with a firm sense of respect and honor for those You have placed in authority over her. She has so many wonderful qualities, Lord. Help us to nurture these in her, and give her the confidence that she has the ability to conquer the world as long as she believes in herself, and believes in Your perfect plan for her life.
Thank You for the precious moments I had the chance to spend with her today, and the excuse to simply soak in her beautiful smile and laughter.
You handed me joy the day You handed me her, Lord. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank You.
In Your wonderful Name I pray,