June 5, 2014
I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.
Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.
One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.
Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.
“That’s because we are birds” he said.
“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”
“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.
For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”
I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.
After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.
“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”
“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.
“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.
“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.
“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.
“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.
“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.
“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.
He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”
And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.