I keep forgetting how literal children are. Charlie hasn't the slightest idea about sarcasm, he doesn't really understand exageration or metaphor or parable or the difference between fact and fiction and this is making our poor boy very confused.
I recenty witnessed the breaking of one of his first fantasy bubbles when I gave him a tin of colouring pencils and he was awe-struck. "Wow!" he said "Magic pencils!!! Look Mummy, it will draw all by itself" and he proceeded to try to stand the pencils on their points so they could draw by themselves, the way they do on various children's art programmes. He was so let down, I felt like crying.
I'm learning slowly to watch my mouth for more than just swearing. The other night he was begging to play 'Chuggington' on my computer when he was already late for bed, so I said 'right, I'll cut you a deal, Chuggington and no stories, or stories and no Chuggington and he burst into tears screaming 'no cutting, Mummy, don't cut me!!!!'
It's led to a few interesting conversations, this total reliance on the meaning of words. When he talks about growing bigger, I often tell him that one day he might be bigger than me. I think he's worked this out to mean that he'll be a bigger version of me. A few weeks ago he started asking me why I don't have a willy. 'Because I'm a girl' I said. 'Girls don't have willies, only boys have willies. You're a boy, you have a willy. Daddy's a boy, he has a willy'. 'So' he said, after a moment of silence 'when I get big like you, I'll take my willy off'.
We've had a surprising number of 'when I take my willy off' conversations over the past few weeks, including one where he insisted that he didn't want to be a boy, he wanted to be a girl like his best friend and grow up to be a Mummy. I think this is less about gender confusion (he is only 3) and more about general confusion but one never knows (and I don't think we'll particularly mind either way). I do feel for the little spud though, it's obviously been really worrying him, wondering if his willy is going to be taken away at some point. He's now asking 'is he a boy?' 'is he a girl?' about nearly everyone and today appeared to be quite relieved that his willy is not detachable and that he will eventually become a man.
So, we're being a little more careful about what we say around him at the moment but one never knows when literalism might hit... today as we walked through the park the Frog shouted out to him as he wove through the grass eating his ice-cream 'Watch the dog poo Charlie!' and Charlie stopped and stood there, watching the dog poo.