Ah the natural curiosity of children. Isn’t it a beautiful thing?
Ha! Only a fool would make such a claim! It is, in fact, an unpredictable hair trigger waiting to ping mud all over the faces of the parents who were foolhardy enough to parade their children in public.
Children will point. Children will exclaim. Children will stare open mouthed. Children will drop you right in it.
Yesterday my son, Indy, who is old enough to know better, exclaimed sharply “Mum! Look!” and made me turn round and look straight at a little girl with quite extreme birth defects.
All of a sudden I unwittingly turn into one of the legions of people who gape and stare at this little girl and her mum.
Indy realised what he’d done as soon as it happened, especially when I turned sharpish back to him with the face that instantly says:
You know the one.
Once the coast was clear I realised that Indy was starting to tear up a bit, about what he had just done, so I said, “It’s OK, it’s OK you just can’t do that to me OK? You can’t stare and whisper at people. That poor woman probably has to put up with people staring at her little girl all the time.”
“I know, I’m sorry” he said, cheeks flushed and lip trembling slightly. I could tell he felt pretty bad and I suppose yesterday will have marked the point where he realises you can’t blurt out like a banshee every time you see a dwarf, midget, hunchback, Rastafarian, excessively tall person* or any other remarkable character that the two of my children have routinely shrieked at throughout the years.
Life lessons, eh?
Sadly for Meeester and I, we’ve got years of this still to come in the form of one four year old Junior Misssy, though.
One incident happened quite loudly and recently.
There is a woman who works in a local department store who is no bigger than Junior Misssy. She was stationed at the changing rooms when we went in.
“Mummy, why is that wee girl working here?” she bellowed like Brian Blessed in a high wind.
Understand folks, the “wee girl” is standing right in front of us, giving us our tag for the changing area. The woman smiles and says hello to Junior. She also remarks on how cute Junior is, presumably to dissolve my embarrassment. I suppress the urge to haul the still staring Junior away by the scruff before more damage can be done and Jnr Misssy returns the compliment to her.
In the changing room it goes on, “But Mummy how come that wee girl works here?”
“She’s not a wee girl she’s just a lady who is tiny” I whisper, not sure if I am being any more PC than my daughter.
Loudly (please note all of Junior’s dialogue is LOUD in this scenario) she says, “But why is that tiny lady working here?”
It’s like she’s actually questioning why the woman has a job here, and she doesn’t. I am also instantly regretting using the phrase "tiny lady".
I whisper an explanation of the woman being very tiny as a baby and not growing very big as she got older but still able to work and fine in all other respects. After some further key questions are answered, I am happy that Junior Misssy has understood and will be quiet for the next five minutes until we can escape.
Junior is indeed quiet. So quiet that I when turn round to see what she is up to, I see she has poked her whole head out the curtain and is full on staring at the “tiny lady”.
We have to get out.
Jnr Misssy talks about the tiny lady all the way home. In fact she talks about her still, when we’re in town. “Will we see the tiny lady?” “Why does that tiny lady work there again?”
Jeeez. I can never go back.
And it’s not just tiny ladies that have found Junior Misssy’s radar. On holiday, we were sitting down to breakfast when a 3 year old Junior Misssy shouts, “Mummy, look at that fat lady eating!!” as a poor innocent chubby woman tucks into her buffet breakfast.
Junior’s proclamation is loud and pointy enough for me to have to apologise to the woman, probably making it all worse.
Mind you, I bet she just had a grapefruit the next day.
* All actual occurrences. Apologies to all concerned.