It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A daddy by any other name…

batik“That’s a nice picture, Mary!”

Sometimes — mostly — the tots are oblivious to the things around them. I know, I know. “Children are so observant!” is the cooing truism, but it’s not true. Anyone who spends a lot of time around children knows that they can miss the most obvious things. Like the doorstep they trip over every. single. morning. Like the mitten they can’t find right there on the floor in front of them.

How about this one. Mother is changing baby, reaches under the table and realized there are no diapers on the shelf. She calls to her three-year-old. “I need a clean diaper for the baby, sweetie. Can you get one for me? They’re in the closet.”

She can see her child. She can see him trot to the closet, see him open the door, and see there, on two full shelves RIGHT in front of him, FIVE DOZEN diapers. From across the room, where she holds the naked, squirming baby with one hand, she can see all this.

“Where? I can’t see any diapers!”

“Observant.” Pfui.

What kids do notice are the quirky things, things the adults around them miss — thus causing them to say, “What an observant kid!!” Well, yeah, if noticing that there is a “RED ANT ONNA SIDEWALK!” somehow makes up for the fact that they couldn’t find their milk glass because it was on the right side of their plate instead of the left at lunch today…

For whatever reason, the tots have noticed the picture.

“Yes, it is. Some friends gave it to me. It’s from South Africa.” (Or was it Namibia? South Africa, I think. And, as you may be able to tell from the photo — or perhaps not — it is batik.)

“It is a lovely picture. And my daddy framed it.” Anna is proud.

“Yes, he did. Your daddy chose that frame and put my picture in it. He made it look even more lovely.” Showing how much I trust Anna’s daddy’s professional judgment, I simply handed over the batik. No guidance at all. What I got back was a total — and happy — surprise. It is, in fact, an olive-wood veneer. I love the way the wrinkles in the wood echo the creases in the batik. It’s perfect.

“Your daddy fixed Mary’s picture?”

“No, it wasn’t broken. He framed it.” Anna knows this because her dad runs a framing shop. It is clear that to the other children, “framed” means as much as, oh, bowdlerize means to pretty much anyone but English majors.

Brief vocabulary lesson while Mary takes the “picture” down from the wall and explains what a ‘frame’ is.

“It was lovely before Anna’s daddy framed it, but now that it has a frame on it, it will look pretty for a long, long time.”

My daddy didn’t do that.”

“No, Emily. Your daddy is a lawyer. Anna’s daddy frames pictures.”

“My daddy is not a lawyer!”

He isn’t? Gee. I thought he was. I was pretty sure he’d just landed his first job a year or so back, but, my memory being what it is, it’s entirely possible I haven’t got it quite right. Emily is a very observant and bright little girl. I’m quite ready to be corrected by this not-quite-three-year-old.

“He isn’t? What is your daddy, then?”

“My daddy is… just, well… he’s a daddy!”

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Anna, crafts, Emily, parents | , , , , , | 3 Comments