Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Years and He Still Doesn't Know Everything. Why am I Surprised?

You know, something strange happens when our children stop being toddlers and start into the preschooler phase. Maybe it's because they sound just like us, maybe it's because they've been around for a few years, or maybe it's just because their memory gets so much better, but we start forgetting how small they still are and start thinking of them as being smaller versions of us. Yet, the truth is that they are still so new to the world and they still don't have our understanding of things around them.

This hit me this morning, as my son woke up to discover that part of his first splinter was still in his knee. Last night, his father thought he had gotten it all out, but this morning it was clear that there was still a piece in there. I told him that mama would have to try to use a disinfected needle and maybe some tweezers to get it out and it might hurt a little, but his knee would heal pretty quickly once I got it out. The look of sheer panic in his three year old eyes and the worry in his voice was almost electric.

"Won't the tweezers break my knee?" He asked with tearful eyes.

You see, he didn't realize exactly what tweezers were. Even though his vocabulary is ever expanding and awe-inspiring and even though he seems like he's got this whole world figured out, something as small as the unknown word tweezer was enough to terrify him.

"Maybe it'll just come out on its own. Don't use the needle or tweezers, mama! Please?!?"

He feared the unknown more than he feared the pain that was already in his knee. (Don't we all?) I assured him that everything would be alright, sterilized the needle and the tweezers in full sight of him and even ran through the whole process by removing a splinter from one of his duckies. I then asked him to trust me and gently removed the splinter. At first, when I was getting the shard loose with the needle, he teared up because it hurt, but when he saw how quickly I got it out and how it didn't hurt as much as he feared, he relaxed, took the offered band-aid and kisses and jumped down to start "ordering" his breakfast.

The incident with the splinter reminds me of how much of this world is still a mystery to him. He may understand a lot of his world very well, but when it comes to the rest, well, it's just as new to him as the sun was when he witnessed his first sunrise at five weeks old. It's hard to make myself appreciate what it must be like to know so much, and, yet, so little. No wonder it seems like he finds a hundred ways to get himself into trouble during the day! He knows just enough to figure out how things work, but next to nothing about social context, safety, and dangerous consequences. What I take for granted (my ability to apply my everyday knowledge of how the world works), he can't because he just doesn't know enough. He may sound like a little man, but really, even at three, he's still a baby. He's just a baby who is (mostly) potty trained and sounds like he's ready for middle school, but my baby nonetheless!

Thanks for reading,


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