06 September 2011

making connections, 7-year-old style

We often have the best conversations in the car or while she is in the tub, with me held captive in her presence, free of other distractions. Today, it went down like this in the car. . . .

Young One: Ewww, that is gross. Did you see that picture of the lady with the boobies?

This is Italy. There are often pictures of ladies and their breasts here and there. Usually, they go unnoticed, unmentioned. No big deal. Part of every day. Naked bodies here and there are part of the norm. At times the image is appropriate and beautiful, other times not. No Puritan hangups in the locker rooms at the pool either. This day she saw an ad for an art exhibit with a painting of a naked upper body of a voluptuous woman.

Me: Breasts. They are called breasts. Breasts are an incredible and beautiful part of a woman's body. No matter the size or shape or color, always lovely, Baby Girl, and breasts are normal and natural and should never be called gross. They are a wonderful thing, breasts. And you know what. . .they are for women only. . . one day you'll have breasts . . .

yadda. yadda. yadda.

And so I continued, likely for much longer than my 7-year-old girl was willing to listen. We've named body parts correctly since she was a toddler, so it just irks me when she uses a word like "boobies" and then refers to them as "gross." I also already worry about body image issues with her. Feeling defeated, I expound the virtue of the breast for quite some time. Meanwhile, her little friend is in the car and is likely getting quite an unwanted earful. I notice the awkwardness in her blind stare through the car window and wrap up my little lesson.

I stop.
I breathe.
There is a pregnant pause, followed by an honest inquiry:

Young One: Mamma, is Sophia adopted?

I feel annoyed that she has completely changed the subject without comment or acknowledgement of my virtuous, fact-filled lecture.

Me: No. Don't you remember when Luciana was pregnant with Sophia? Her tummy growing from month to month?

Young One: I just remember you once told me that breasts get bigger when mommies have babies. Luciana has the smallest breasts I have ever seen, Mamma. That's why I want to know if Sophia is adopted.


She does listen.
Or at least she is good at making observations and connections.
Heaven help us.

(True story . . . but names changed to protect the small-chested friend, or, maybe, Young One ;)