Saturday, June 12, 2010

The meaning of things

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.

Ah me.

12 comments:

justherdingcats said...

How funny, this reminded me of when my now 13 year old was about 3 he saw me coming out of the shower and announced " oh poor Mummy hasn't got a willy yet."

They do come out with the funniest things, I cant wait to go through it all again with my baby who at just 9 months is very vocal but with limited words!

Glummy Mummy said...

Aww, that sounds so sweet. Actually reading this made me feel sad, he sounds such a cutie. Also, may I say, I like the name you give your hubby: The Frog. Very imaginative. x.

Sparx said...

Justherdingcats - Wow, 13 and 9 months! Fantastic to be going through it again... He told me he was going to take his own willy off this morning so I guess we're not out of those woods yet...

Glummy Mummy - I know, it is a bit sad. Also sad is that my nickname for the Frog is highly unimaginative, it's what he called himself in all his texts and emails to me when we were dating. He's French and I think he thought it was cute...

Glummy Mummy said...

Oh I see! Haha.

Sparx said...

Yes - I probably shouldn't propagate it but he does still sometimes use it... a cop out I feel.

aliasse said...

Matthew is in a permanent state of pregnancy and has been for more than a year. He's carrying a boy, called 'Harold'. Harold sometimes threatens to come out but slips away at the last minute.

Also, Matthew asked Esther to marry him today and she said yes. I didn't remind them that Esther asked me to marry her and I said yes. Fortunately, according to Matthew the arrangement with Esther doesn't mean that he can't marry Ella, who he asked last week (she said yes). He's realised that if someone - Lauren - keeps saying they're going to marry someone else - Jay - then it's a good idea to move on. He worked that one out for himself. I approve.

Sparx said...

Aliasse - I think it shows remarkable presence of mind in one so young, I hope this doesn't mean he moves on too quickly though... Charlie keeps saying he wants to BE Lizzie and when I ask if he wants to marry her he says 'yuck'. He threatened to cut his own willy off yesterday; it may be too late to put this one back in its box... I love that M is carrying a baby though. Where is it, in his cheeks? :)

Sparkly Em said...

My son, who is now 8 and more lippy than the local branch of superdrug once said to me that when he grew up he was going to be a mummy too. I told him he could be a daddy, but he insisted on being a mummy....

So sweet......so long agao. Sniff.

Sphinx said...

Poor little Charlie... to start with, the English language is full of words with more than one meaning, and learning any language using only your ears can lead to a lot of confusion. Literal thinking lasts until about age 6, so he has a few years to go before he will fully understand your meaning. Does he have to cope with French, too?

Sparx said...

Sparkly Em - more lippy than Superdrug! Love it. Well, guess we're not alone...

Sphinx - yes he does... but I don't think his father talks to him about very complex issues... still, 3 more years of this, ouch!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Lord, glad I haven't had a conversation like this with Jonathan yet. He just thinks mommy has a penis like he does and I explained we didn't....so now he thinks I'm the "weird" one. No worries about losing his willy at all.

Iota said...

I remember my son in his literal days asking me whether he could really die of heat if he didn't take his sweater off.