Ah, children. So innocent. So sweet. So inquisitive. From the moment they can speak and after they get "No" out of their system, they start with "Why."
"Why is the sky blue?"
"Why are you doing that?"
"Why does it rain?"
"Why" never stops, but evolves into deeper, more invasive questions. However, as annoying the every single "Why" is, I would gladly take a hundred simple "Whys" over one complicated "Why." Because no matter how experienced you may be, there will always be conversations you will never be prepared for as a parent.
Kids are adorable, with their silly questions and expectations for answers. They question everything they see and hear, which is why adults are often very careful when speaking around kids. We never really know what they understand and when they start understanding it. I do know, however, that kids pay attention to everything, so the rule of thumb for me is to always watch what I say around them.
My kids are still little, so we haven't discussed many topics I am terrified of broaching. Subjects like drugs, sex, and sexual assault are still far from being on the radar (I hope). Although, I have a feeling no matter how much I prepare myself for those discussions, when the time comes, I will be just as thrown as I was with these:
The "I Look Fat In This" Conversation
While getting dressed for Halloween, my 7 year-old-daughter pouted and, with tears in her eyes, said she looked fat. Now, what am I supposed to do with that? That comment felt like she physically punched me in the throat because the weight of it felt exactly the same as I assume a punch to the throat would feel like. I figured I'd have to deal with this at some point, which is a sad reality of our society, but I didn't think I'd have to have this conversation at 7. It's just heartbreaking.
The "Where Did I Come From?" Conversation
When I was pregnant with my son, I explained to my daughter that her baby brother is in "mommy's belly." She seemed confused. Then she asked, "Was I also in your belly?"
I said "yes" and we moved on, until she decided to start pushing and asked how she got in the belly. I told her that when mommy and daddy love each other they make a baby. That was it. She "understood." No more follow-up questions. For now.
The "What Is God?" Conversation
Not sure where she heard about God from, but one day my daughter asked me what God was. Let's just say I didn't win any parenting awards with this one.
Maybe if I were on any level religious, I could have taken the time to teach her about religion and all of that jazz, but I'm not. There's not a single ounce of religion in this house. So the conversation goes something like this: "Some people believe that there is someone watching after all of us and that someone has some sort of plan for all of us. Some people believe in that, but your father and I do not." We weren't prepared, and we are still not prepared.
The "Why Did My Grandma Die?" Conversation
My grandmother passed away when my daughter was 4 years old. It's my fault for not telling my daughter she had passed, as I figured she was too young to care or understand. Both of my grandfathers died when I was around 3 or 4 years old, and I can't really remember any of it. In fact, all I remember was sadness and anxiety in the air.
So, when my grandmother died, I didn't tell my daughter. I thought maybe she just wouldn't ask? Plus, to be honest, I'm still grieving. It's hard for me to discuss it. However, one day and completely out of the blue, my daughter asked, "How come we don't go visit Baba (Russian for "grandma") anymore?" Ouch. That one hurt. I had to explain death to a 4 year old. She still talks and cries about it.
The "I'm A Girl So I Can't Do [Insert Activity Here]" Conversation
I just want to scream. Every time my daughter says anything of the sort, I want to bang my head against something ridiculously hard because this phrase makes my skin crawl with anger and disillusion. Where?! Where does she get these ridiculous notions? I mean, I know where, but ugh. I've lost count of the number of times I have told her that girls can do anything they want to do. I've joined groups on Facebook that cater to raising feminists. What am I doing wrong? Why isn't it sticking?! This is really a tough one. It's me against society here.
The "Why Are Two Boys Kissing On TV" Conversation
I was recently watching something, can't remember what exactly, when my daughter walked downstairs and caught a glimpse of a kiss between two men. Her initial reaction was to ask, "Why are two boys kissing?" So, here I am, trying to explain to my daughter that there is nothing odd or weird or even different about that, and how anyone can kiss anyone and how love doesn't see gender and I'm saying all the right things and I can see she has lost all interest.
The "Why Can't I Curse?" Conversation
In my daughter's defense, I curse. So does her dad. So when she asks why she can't curse, I can't really play the "it's inappropriate" card. Also, I'm aware how modeling works, so she is obviously watching and listening to her parents. We've basically told her that cursing is a right you must earn as an adult, and she hasn't earned that right quite yet.
The "Why Do We Have To Move Again?" Conversation
We've moved three times in the past four years and my daughter went to three different schools. For us, it was about finances and figuring out where we want to live and which school district we want to be in. We've finally settled, but it took a few adjustments. While the adults do just fine, the kids have a harder time. They have to make new friends and leave behind old ones. I'd like to believe that their friendships at 5 years old aren't super strong, but I've definitely felt guilty when my daughter would ask when she can see her old neighborhood friend again. The answer is never, kid. Sorry. Talking about finances and instability to a child is rather heavy. We do it in small doses, but at this point it all seems like too much.
The "A Boy Keeps Trying To Kiss Me" Conversation
No. Absolutely, 100 percent no. He cannot kiss you. Nobody is allowed to kiss you without your permission. Ever. Do you understand me? No one should ever touch you without your permission. In any way. Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to say "no" and don't be afraid to defend yourself. If he tries again, push him away. I will have a word with his parents.
Meanwhile, as I say all of that I am just utterly dumbfounded. Why is this happening? Why are we having this conversation at 7? I mean, I guess it's a necessary conversation to have. But, holy sh*t.
The "Why Doesn't My Friend's Dad Live With Her?" Conversation
Now we're at divorce. It's hard discussing something with your kid when you lack the experience on the subject. At the end of the conversation I always feel some sort of gap in understanding on her part. I give her the basics, like, "Sometimes things just don't work out. It doesn't change how loved your friend is." I explain how every family is different and leave it at that.
The "Why Is My Friend Mean To Me?" Conversation
"Because kids are jerks and they suck," is what I want to say. But what I actually say is something like, "Well, if someone isn't nice to you then that person isn't really your friend. Also, maybe your friend was having a bad day and she wasn't in a good mood. Maybe you can ask her what's wrong. If she continues to be mean though, don't be friends with her."
It's tough explaining to your kid that her "best friend" may not be very nice. Luckily though, I've watched my daughter stop being friends with kids who are mean to her, so I consider that progress.
The "Are You Going To Die?" Conversation
"Never. We are immortal. Now go to bed."
Do you ever hear yourself explaining these abstract concepts to your kids and think, "Am I even making any sense?" I do. As most of these conversations happen, my internal monologue is just pure panic. My thoughts are hands around my throat, rapidly restricting the air flow. My body is stiff and unwavering. Honestly, I feel like a fraud. I feel like I am trying to teach my daughter lessons I am still learning myself. I am telling her mini-truths, or rather, my versions of the truths. It's truly an odd feeling trying to have these conversations with a child, because you never know which part will stick and how they'll interpret the information you provide. But I guess we are all doing and saying what we believe is right, and that is the best we can do. Right?