Now that all the serious discussion is out of the way, I’ll share some ridiculous things the kids have told me during our conversations or in inconvenient situations. Since my son is the brooding, silent type, most of these faux pas feature my very vocal daughter.
- Imagine you’re in a store, buying a baby shower gift for a friend. You’re fluctuating between a high chair and a feeding bottle collection. And your child screams, “Nipple! Look, Amma, a nipple! Don’t forget to buy NIPPLES!” (she was referring to the bottle nipples, thank goodness). But we still got a lot of strange looks.
- When I spoke to my daughter about body parts, she was quiet and attentive. Thrilled with how well she was listening, I congratulated myself on a job well done. Later that week, she “educated” all her preschool teachers that they have “Halwa (vulva) and vest (breasts).” My husband was all, “Aur sikhao body parts.”
- The kids had found one of my grandma’s old blankets. It was a keepsake I’d treasured and kept close after her death, so when they were dragging it across the floor, I pulled it away. My daughter had so many questions:
- When did your grandma die?
- Why did she die?
- Did you kill her? (genuine curiosity.)
- Why didn’t she visit us? (some tears.)
- Did your other grandma die too? (answer: yes)
- Why don’t you have her blanket? Did she die without a blanket?
- Did you kill that grandma? (suspicious stare because how come BOTH my grandmas were dead?!)
(I needed to lie down for 10 minutes after this conversation.)
- When I told my son that he was getting older and his body was changing. He might need to use deodorant once summer rolls around. To which he giggled and yelled, “If the armpits get too smelly, then it will be yucky, and Amma will vomit.” At full volume.
- My daughter sobbed when I told her about menstruation. I reassured her that while it might hurt, the pain can be managed for the most part. The next time she wanted to not attend school, she looked at me with those big, brown watery eyes and announced, “Amma, I have a period. I can’t go to school today.” She was 6.
- We were once talking about death and what happens to the body after. My daughter immediately announced she would bury me. I told her I would think about it, but in Hindu culture, bodies were typically cremated. She was horrified at the prospect, so I told her we would discuss after-death options when she was a little older. That night, as we were getting ready for bed, she grabbed my face and whispered,” Amma, I will bury you. That way, whenever I’m bored, I can dig you up and play with you.” Then she turned away and nodded off, possibly dreaming about playing with her dead mother’s freshly dug-up corpse.
- My son wanted to marry his classmate when he was younger. He had a major crush on her (oh, she was so cute!) My daughter is the same. She has a big, passionate heart and has crushes on so many boys. One day, she was annoyed with one of her “boyfriends” and said she would “divorce” him. I asked her if she was sure. She thought about it and nodded. “I don’t love him anymore. But we can still be good friends!” After I stopped giggling, I hoped she had this same clarity of thought when she was an adult.
- There is so much (so much) talk of poop, pee, and farts in my house. I know potty humor is very typical and age-appropriate, and I enjoy a good fart joke myself. But when it’s 7 pm, and the kids have been yelling,” Amma is poo and Appa is a fart,” all day, I longingly think of those Tibetan monks who take vows of silence. Mmm. It must be nice.
- Actual statements uttered by children:
- “I want to climb back into your uterus, Amma. It’s so boring out here.”
- “Amma, since I can marry whoever I want, can I marry Minnie, the dog?”
- “How many hours then we will die?”
We have countless such candid conversations. I do my best to be honest and open with them. They reciprocate by coming back to me with wide-eyed curiosity. I hope they will grow up to be confident, well-adjusted humans, comfortable in their bodies and beliefs.
In the meantime, I’ll be busy writing up a will with explicit instructions to cremate me after I am gone. I need some peace, at least after I am dead.