My brother told me yesterday at dinner how my 5-year-old nephew had recently watched the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" all the way through and actually paid attention to it, and felt sad when Hanks lost his only friend "Wilson." I was amazed that a 5-year-old kid had that kind of attention span for a serious movie, and that he was moved by it. (For those who haven't seen the desolate film, Hanks gets stranded on a desert island; a Wilson VOLLEYBALL washes up on the island with him; he draws a face on the ball, and "Wilson" becomes his only companion.)
On the way home from dinner, I was sitting in the back of my brother's car with the boys; there was a SOCCER ball on the floor, so, trying to be cute and make what I thought was appropriate conversation with a 5-year-old, I said cheerily to the ball: "Hi, Wilson!"
My nephew looked at me like I was an idiot: "That's not a volleyball, that's a soccer ball." Doh! :)
My mom also told me a story recently about the same kiddo: She, "Oma" to her two grandkids, had walked with the boys to a nearby playground. On the way home, she pointed out, in third-person adult-speak: "There's Oma's house." The 5-year-old looked at her and said, "But... YOU'RE Oma!" (As if to say: "I fully understand the concept of "my" as a possessive -- HULLO!)
So much for dumbing down your conversation when speaking to kids! As a further reminder: Last night, the 8-year-old nephew (the one interested in Joan's movie exploits) was grilling me on where I got my lighters (and why I'd been getting them for free from the store near my house and how many I had by now) and why I didn't move my CD-case from one wall to the other, where he thought it would look better, plus why I was finding it so hard to get a job... RE the latter: He was honestly curious about why I couldn't find a job, not getting in a dig (what a relief THAT was -- just to TALK about it and not defend myself about it...)
His curiosity about random stuff was/is so interesting to me! Both of the nephews -- they're not just "dumb sponges"! They're actually LISTENING to what's being said and offering up their opinions, and engaging, without trying to please and/or trying to be nasty... It's really fascinating and exhilarating to me, being around this stage of little humans: OPINIONS without AGENDAS. I miss being that way.
p.s. As an addendum: I've been bitching about my parents recently. But one thing I'll grant them is that, for the most part, they weren't/aren't phony in their adult lives. I wasn't taught any "social graces" by them, because they didn't think them important (it still cracks me up that my dad was named "Friendliest" in his high-school yearbook). It's messed me up greatly, sure, when it comes to my personal relations. I absolutely don't trust people because of how my parents acted toward me, and how they presented the world to me. But, still, the one quality I do value about each of them, a quality I possess, is their intelligence and ingrained bullshit detector (the latter many times greatly irrational and off-base). Just wish I'd been taught to temper that harshness and sense of judgment with an accompanying sense of love and kindness and mercy (on occasion, Sandra was like what I heard heroin was like -- a wash of mercy...I couldn't believe how utterly deep and sweet, I couldn't believe how much I needed how she was...)
For me, everything filters first through the distrust, almost everything always gets caught there... It's a hard way to live.