When a young child makes an observation about you, you can be sure that it is spot-on accurate and, sometimes painfully, true. You might not like it, but if a kid asks you why you don’t have much hair on top and if you just ate an onion, that means that you’re rapidly balding and your breath is stanky.
Recently, Leo was walking behind me while I was in my swimsuit when this charming exchange took place:
Leo: “Mom, why is your butt so big? Like, it’s really big and fat. Is it so that if you have to sit on rocks it won’t hurt so bad? I bet that’s why. But your butt is so big that you could sit on, like, a boulder and it wouldn’t hurt. I guess that’s good if you get stuck on a mountain or something. Do you think that’s why God made your butt so ginormous? So that you can just sit anywhere and It won’t hurt so bad?”
Me: “Are you quite done?”
Leo: “Done with what?”
Me: “Hurting my feelings about the size of my butt.”
Leo: “I’m not hurting your feelings, I’m just asking you the truth.”
Me: “My butt is big because I love brownies and, apparently, I need to exercise more. Listen, my feelings aren’t really hurt, but if you were to say something like that to someone else, it might make them feel bad so please, before you say something about how someone looks, ask yourself “Is what I’m about to say hurtful or helpful?” Our words can be harmful so we need to choose them carefully.”
He was thoughtful for a moment and then said:
Leo: “Did I hurt your feelings?”
Me: “No, buddy, you didn’t. I’m just saying that we need to be careful about what we say to people about the way they look. I know you wouldn’t hurt my- or anyone’s- feelings on purpose.”
Leo: “Because I was joking- you should know that. And if you don’t know that then you’re stupid.”
I explained to him that calling someone ‘stupid’ can be as hurtful as an insensitive comment about their appearance. That, if we do hurt someone’s feelings with our words, we don’t then blame them for for being hurt- even if we were ‘joking’.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing squats and lunges and taking online IQ tests.
And later that evening, when he asked me if I would share my brownie, I said “Sure!” but then snatched it away and shoved the entire thing in my fat little mouth before he could take a bite. “I was just joking- you should know that”, I said to him.
Life lessons, y’all.