She doesn't get it from me...

One of the best feelings in the world is to be out with your child and have them do something in public that you've taught them to do. Something that you can smile and look knowingly at whomever is around nodding your head saying, "Yup, that's MY kid." I pride myself on having very polite kids (at least the speaking one). At the mall playground the other day she cozied up to a little girl who was struggling to pull her shoes off while her mom tended to her younger sibling and she said to her, "Here, sweetie, let me help you with those." The mom looked over at me and said, "Wow, she's so sweet!". Unable to completely accept a compliment, I said, "Yeah, right NOW she is... things can change quickly with her though!". But inside, I was glowing. My girl IS sweet.

But then there are the times that your child does something that hurl you in the OPPOSITE direction. Things that you try to defend, try to look puzzled by because you want to make it clear that you did NOT teach your child to do/say that. If you have a 4 year old, you know what I'm talking about. I've experienced, "Mommy, is that a man or a lady?" coming out of Hannah's mouth much too loudly. The salesperson looked at me after she asked the question and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. And I couldn't even answer Hannah because I had no idea myself. She's also shouted out, "Look at her HERMENDOUS boobies mommy!". I would have hoped that the lady with the "hermendous" boobies would have laughed since she was in no way shy about them, but she shook her head at me as if I should do a better job controlling my kid's mouth. This 4-year-old-filter problem is very common. But my 4 year old does something else that she makes very public and usually throws me leaving me digging for an explanation.

Hannah is obsessed with car brands. When we got our new car she was interested in knowing what the "L" on the front of it stood for. And when I told her she then asked what the "label" on the front of every other car stood for. She now knows pretty much every car type and shouts them out as we drive down the street or walk through a parking lot. I wouldn't call it cute. I'd call it freaky. She also makes up little riddles for cars. For instance she said recently, "Mommy, do you know what kind of car I should drive?"

"No, what kind of car?"

"A Ford! Because I'm Four!"

And then, "Mommy, what kind of car do you think would be the most FUN to drive?"
Assuming she was not thinking of a convertible BMW to feel the wind blowing her hair back, I asked, "What?"
"A TOYota! Because it's like a Toy!"

There's more, but I won't bore you with them.

I can handle this strange interest of hers inside my house or in OUR car but last week when I was picking her up from school and we were walking down the sidewalk behind a woman wearing a hoodie sweater with a big peace symbol on the back. Hannah caught up to her, looked up at her and said, "Hi!" (and I was beaming to myself watching my little friendly daughter). And then she went on to say, "I LOVE your Mercedes sweater!".

"My Mercedes sweater?" the lady asked confused.

"Yeah, you have a big Mercedes sign on your back! It's pretty!"

The mom looked back at me with a look of disbelief. Mind you, Hannah goes to a very liberal, very "green", proudly alternative preschool. Teaching our kids brand names of cars and the symbols that go with them is not a top priority in this environment.
"I don't know where she gets it from." I meekly said to the other mom. "She just, likes cars".

I don't know why I was so embarrassed. It just seemed so superficial. So unimportant. Why couldn't she have said, "Oh, I love your peace sign... I agree, we should all find more peace within ourselves." That would have made me proud.

Also recently we were at a holiday party and all of the kids were playing outside by the driveway where all the cars were parked. Hannah looked over and yelled, "HEY! Who drives the Chevy??" Not that she knows the value or expense of different cars (she judges all cars on color and how pretty the name sounds) but it sounded to the crowd that she was putting down the Chevy driver. It got a laugh (because it was our friends) but again, it did not make me proud. And I just said to the other parents sarcastically, "what can I say, she knows what is important in life. Hide your purse, because if she sees it's not Prada, she may not be your friend."

I can't tell Hannah not to talk about cars. It's innocent enough but I can't help but think it reflects on me in a negative light. I get very defensive. I laugh it off. But it's just another one of those parenting things that leaves me wondering, should I be doing something different?


Shell said...

Nah, that's innocent enough.

My four year old is currently obsessed by who is "old." After listening to Rush Limbaugh in the car with his Grandpa(thanks so much for that, Grandpa), he is convinced that our President is going to kill all the old people. So, he'll ask someone, "Are you old? Barack Obama is going to kill you." thankful that it's just cars that she talks about!!!!!

TKW said...

I think it's funny! Some people have no sense of humor and take themselves WAY too seriously.

And Shell, your son cracks me up!

lz @ My Messy Paradise said...

This cracked me up! I can so see a child doing this...And hermendous is now part of my vocabulary.

M is usually very polite, too, but has yet to master the art of gracefully accepting a gift that she doesn't like. My mom bought her some clothes for her birthday, and she said, "Oh, no. Not clothes. I really wanted a toy." I know - she's 5, it's to be expected and offers a teaching moment, but I'm with feel like it's a reflection of you sometimes.

Lindsey said...

Hilarious. And adorable.
My best one is my son asking loudly if that woman has a baby in her tummy. When she clearly does not. Has happened more than once. Eek.

Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

Good times! We were in the grocery store a few years back and a very large, tall black man walked past us. My kid looked up in amazement and said, "Look, mama! It's Fat Albert!" I quickly launched into parenting mode, but did I ever feel like a horrible person.

The car thing is really cute. The South has rubbed off on my kid because they only time he yells out car names is to screech, "Oh snap - look at that MUSTANG!!!"

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

This is a great post because it highlights the innocent and undeniable (and intelligent) humor of your darling girl AND it raises an important, if complicated question about what our kids' behavior and commentary and humor says about our parenting.

I think that your girl sounds hilarious and smart. And I think you are a good mom for daring to ask these tough questions.

Sarah said...

Funny little four year olds. We've been there. And we'll be there again all too soon. Each age leaves us struggling in public as parents, in different ways. But when our kids start saying things like this it does make us a little defensive about our parenting techniques. As in "Hey, listen, she's cute and all but this didn't come from me! Just so you know!"

I firmly believe that our reactions to things are almost more important to the things themselves. And also, that your attention or inattention to Hannah's obsession with cars will be a part of how she ultimately views it herself.

I can only imagine the little rhyme or riddle she would construct about my Mazda minivan.


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