Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet Charity

Subtitle for this post, as suggested by my spouse: "S**t My Five Year-Old Says."

The scene: spouse is driving, five year-old is in the backseat, and ten year-old is not present, meaning that five year-old is able to get a word in edgewise.

We recently have come to terms with the fact that we don't really know the five year-old, as what we see 99% of the time is the five year-old standing in the shadow of the ten year-old. How does one get noticed when standing in the shadow? Certainly not by mimicking the shadow-caster; rather, the natural tendency seems to be to distance yourself as much as possible from the bigger person. Thus, because big brother is ponderous and pontificating and opinionated, and likes to throw around a bunch of two-dollar words, little brother's stock in trade is the quick quip, the silly face, the pratfall, the gross sound effect, etc.

However . . . increasingly it is becoming obvious that "silly Parker" is a character - part of who he is, certainly, but not all of who he is. His brain is much more active and engaged than is immediately apparent. As we are heading into his kindergarten year, we are seeking out - nay, forcing - opportunities to let little brother shine in his own light. Hence, we have switched from a zone defense to man-to-man coverage, and whenever possible Mom takes one boy and Dad takes the other.

This was one of those times.


"Yes, Parker?"

"Does that girl Charity have a lot of brothers and sisters?"

"Um, I'm not sure who you're talking about."

"You know, Charity. [At this point, Dad decides that this must be a new friend from preschool. Dad always tends to be the last one to find out about new additions to the classroom - actually, he finds out when everyone else does, but he is late in taking actual note of the information.] Does she have both of her parents, or just a mom or a dad?"

"I'm not sure, Parker."

"Well, I figure that she has to come from a big family, or else she must be missing a mom or a dad, because she sure needs a lot of stuff. It seems like we're giving stuff to her all of the time."


"She just seems really needy, Dad."


Dad then proceeded to clarify that, while, yes, Charity is a girl's name, the charity at issue is a concept rather than a single person.

But Parker wasn't finished thinking about "that girl Charity."

"What color is Charity, Dad?"

"What color do you think Charity is, Parker?" (Note: This was not a cop-out by Dad. Well, not entirely. He was genuinely interested in the answer. At age five, Connor was completely unaware of skin color - almost to the point of absurdity. Asked to identify a person who happened to be the only dark-skinned person in the room, Connor was likely to respond, "The fifth guy from the left, wearing a red shirt, tall, with big ears.")

"Um, kind of a nice light brown. Because no one's really white, Dad. We're CALLED white, but LOOK AT US [stretching out his forearm]. We are NOT WHITE. We're just sort of tan."

Nice to know that in my five year-old's world, people exist on a spectrum of browns, from light tan to chocolate. Nice, also, to have confirmation that all of the lights are on and the wheels are well-oiled and turning. The natural tendency of a parent, I guess, is to focus on the differences between your children, so it's a bit of a revelation - and oddly reassuring - when you see the similarities. Hearing my husband recount the car conversation, all I could think of was a late December car conversation that I had with Parker's big brother, age 4. Connor explained that he knew lots about Santa, and Frosty, and Rudolph, and it was clear in his mind why they each merited their own songs - but who in the heck was this Felice character, and why did she get a song of her own?

"You know, Mom . . . Felice. Felice NAVIDAD?"

Ah. Of course.

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