As the parent of small children you can find yourself saying things you never thought you would be saying, but what is often more embarrassing are the things you hear your children saying. Small children have to be taught social norms. They do not realize what is and is not appropriate public conversation according to the larger culture. They only know their primary culture–family culture. And so they are probably the best read on the culture of their household (the “behind closed doors” culture). Add to this the limited life experience they have and you can end up with some pretty remarkable conversation tangents.
Their neural connections are limited by experience but they are quick and uninhibited. As a result, on a trip to get a haircut a conversation with the hair dresser can go from how it doesn’t hurt to cut hair, to how it doesn’t hurt to clip fingernails, to how sometimes daddy clips fingernails too short and then there is blood, to there is blue blood and red blood going through our bodies, to when you eat an apple it goes through your body and into your stomach and through your intestines so your body can get all the good energy into your blood…and then the apple becomes poop and comes out of your bumper. As humorous as this conversation can be to the casual observer, it can be awkward and embarrassing for the parent (and the hairdresser). It becomes even more embarrassing when the child’s brain makes all of these connections in their head and only verbalized the last part about poop. (Disclaimer: This conversation hasn’t actually taken place…yet.)
Anyway, yesterday I brought my eldest to the doctor. He has been breaking out in hives for the past several days and well, we just wanted to know how long this might go on and what courses of action we should be taking. As we waited in the exam room my son started playing with the thing they use to check blood pressure. After I asked him to stop playing with it he asked me what it was. I told him the doctor uses it to check people’s blood pressure. This got him very interested because we recently stayed at a friends house and read a children’s book in Spanish on the human body, detailing the various systems (circulatory, respiratory, digestive, etc.). ((interesting fact: nobody in our house speaks Spanish.)
When the doctor came in, my son asked him if he would listen to his heart. My son then began to explain how the heart pumps blue blood and red blood through the body and to the lungs, etc. He showed the doctor the veins on his hands and explained that that was his blue blood. He then asked the doctor why he couldn’t see red lines for the red blood. The doctor was very nice and explained that the red blood lines (also called arteries) are deeper under the skin so we don’t usually see them. I got a few words in about the reason for our visit, my son meanwhile eager to jump in at any moment to say something else about blood and the heart. I concluded our business and then my son chimed in quickly, “My heart pumps blood through my body.” To which the doctor said, “Yes, that’s right.” Not missing a beat (pun intended) my son continued, “When I grow old and die my heart will stop pumping blood. But then Jesus will come back again and there will be a loud trumpet sound and I will be alive again and my heart will start pumping blood again.” To which the doctor replied, “You’ve got that down pat, don’t you.” Talk about faith like a child!
These are the types of connections made by little minds. They are unapologetic. We teach our kids about the human body and all of the intricate systems God worked together to support our lives. We teach our kids about right and wrong; sin and forgiveness; life, death and the promises of resurrection and eternal life through Christ. They process it all together and they make beautiful and obvious conclusions. There are many times I have found myself the embarrassed parent at the end of a conversation leading to a “poop tangent.” However, I look forward to the day when my mind will move as freely as my son’s little mind to a “Christ tangent.”