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Tough question

Tonight, I was reading some books with Sprout that we picked up at the library. One of them was a Baby Einstein book entitled, Van Gogh's World of Color.

On the first page, she listened to and answered the questions, but on the second page, she pointed to the goat (Vincent Van Goat) and asked, "Why does that goat have a bandage on its ear?"

What do you tell your 3-year-old in response to that? I know why. Is she too young to know or understand why?  Maybe, but a) I want model honesty and helpfulness to my children; b) I don't believe in fielding a child's "why" questions with variations of "just because." "I don't know" is a valid answer, but as I said, in this case, I did know why.

So I gave a very general answer about the painter being a person who wasn't always happy and how he hurt his ear during the one of his very sad times. And she kept asking, "Why does he have a bandage; why was he sad?"

We ended up talking about how some people need to have help when they feel very bad, about how it is important to try to understand and help those who seem to be going through a rough time, about the existence of mental illness, about how her father and I will always be there for her to help her when she needs us. Still she asked about the bandage. I finally pointed out that yes, he has a bandage, but he seems to have found his smile again and is apparently happy now. That satisfied her. She needed it articulated that there could be a happy outcome.

And she was thrilled to discuss doing her birthday painting on Tuesday after looking at the artwork in the book. :D

2nd yr painting
Last year's fun



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 20th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
LJ ate my comment, so now I just say that I am glad to hear the conversation went well.
Oct. 20th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
Glad you arrived at an end point that was reassuring for her. It may have been simply the image itself (goat has bandage; bandage = injury) that was troubling. She knows what it means to have a boo-boo, and she's worried about this boo-boo. You have told her it heals/healed up, and that means she doesn't need to worry for the goat anymore.
Oct. 21st, 2013 03:23 am (UTC)
Very good points.
Oct. 21st, 2013 06:07 am (UTC)
What asakiyume said.

I think you found a nice balance between telling her an age-appropriate truth and reassuring her.

Oh, and I hope that paint comes off both clothes and little girls. :p
Oct. 21st, 2013 06:47 am (UTC)
Whew! Tough questions from Miss Three... and great photos afterwards!
Oct. 21st, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
One thing to keep in mind is that when they start to ask questions, they don't always know how to phrase them correctly. For example, I would have conversations with Hallel that went like this:

H: What are those?
Me: Cranberries.
H: Why are they cranberries?
Me: ....

But his question was not an existential pondering on why these particular entities are cranberries instead of bananas or people or light bulbs. If he had known how to phrase it better, his question would have been, "Why do we have cranberries today?" or "What are cranberries?" or "Why are you putting cranberries in our food?" or "What are you doing with the cranberries?"

So I've been helping him learn how to phrase his questions more precisely by asking clarifying questions, rephrasing the question for him and asking him if that was what he meant to ask. Still, giving a more advanced answer never hurts; worst comes to worst it just goes over their heads.

A few weeks ago Hallel finally asked me The Question of how babies get in mommies' tummies, and it took a few clarifying questions on my part to figure out that that was what he was asking (because he asked it some weird way like "Why do babies be in your tummy?" or something). It was also after months of discussing how babies come out of mommies' tummies, and what they do in there, and differences between male and female anatomy, and that once he was a baby in Ima's tummy, and how he remembers when Ro'iel came out of Ima's tummy. (He wasn't at the birth but I think he does remember coming in the house and being introduced to Ro'iel the first time. It was a day before his third birthday!) It was also after a very long process of working out that only mommies have babies in their tummies (he went around for like a year believing he had babies in his own tummy...), and that the babies aren't in mommies' tummies all the time, only some of the time. LOL... so really the only new information he got when he finally asked The Question was that the Abba is involved in the process somehow, and that Ima has lots of little eggs that can turn into babies when Abba puts a special seed in her tummy. (He was very excited to hear that I have lots of eggs: "That means we will have lots and lots of babies!" he exclaimed in joy. "So we will need lots and lots of beds! And cribs!" ....)

I love this age. I love answering his questions about the world and God and people.

But yeah... answering questions about depression and self-harm is going to be tough for me, especially in the context of my own struggles. We've brushed on the subject of death and that's pretty hard for me too.

Oct. 21st, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC)
I love that last picture where it looks like she's decided to paint herself.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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