Have you ever been sitting across from your inquisitive child and wondered, How the hell am I going to possibly explain such a thing to this kid in a way that he'll actually 'get it'? Well, this blog is written exclusively for you. Because we parents not only have the task of raising our children to become respectable adults, but also serving as their very own personal Google.
With that said, here are some random concepts that I've found are hard to explain to children:
• Labor Day signifies the end of summer... but it's not really the end of summer. It's only the end symbolically. The actual end of summer occurs upon the Autumnal Equinox on (we think) September 22. Other things that children don't get? Symbolism, autumnal and equinox.
• Jerk isn't always a "bad word." In fact, it's a perfectly harmless verb. While reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," I was chastised by my son for the line, "turned with a jerk." While trying in vain to differentiate the two different parts of speech, I simply told him that Santa (and any book about him) has carte blanche. I'm sure that cleared it up.
• Sometimes you add "-ed" in the past tense. Sometimes, you don't. I don't envy people learning English as a second language. It's like a friend trying to get you drunk and embarrass you at a bachelor or bachelorette party. I often correct my poor son for saying things like, "Daddy, I hided from you," or "I sneaked into the bathroom." I'm in my 30s and still don't really get it.
• You don't actually give someone something when you give them a massage. OK, this one is pretty adorable. In pain, I jokingly asked my 5-year-old to give me a neck massage. He replied that he was sorry, but he had none to give. On an unrelated note, he typically has no problem giving me a hard time when I try to get him to eat breakfast or get dressed for school.
• If you don't put your seatbelt on, the policeman will show up and throw us all in jail! But hey, if you're ever lost and we're not around, you should definitely walk up to one of them for help. Riiiiight.
• Superheroes are only kid-friendly sometimes. We bought you a Batman shirt, Spiderman socks, a Ninja Turtles bathing suit and a pair of those oversized Incredible Hulk fists. But you can't watch any of the movies. You're not old enough.
• The only time it's OK not to wash your hands after you pee is the middle of the night. Most would agree, I think, that being half unconscious nullifies the "hand washing" rule. But my son called me out recently for failing to rinse either hand after tinkling while both of us were up at 2:30 a.m. (the being up was his fault, by the way). But trying to explain that germs can't be spread between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. just doesn't jive with him.
• Time. I know it's as broad a subject as there is, but children just naturally think about (or don't think about) time in a completely different way than adults do. The other day, I was leaving for work and told my son I'd be home early. It went like this:
Me; "I'll be home early today. Around 4:30, honey."
Son: "What's 4:30, daddy?"
Me: "That's the time I'll be home.
Son: "No, I mean, what is 4:30?"
Wrap my head around what eight hours feels like compared to seven? Ain't nobody got time for that! See what I did there?
• Not every screen is a touch screen. It's hard to blame the kid. He has no idea what life was like before tablets, smartphones and oh, the Internet were invented. Their brains are trained to think virtually every piece of content (be it a book, picture or game) is navigable with a fingertip. A calculator, an Etch-a-Sketch, the television? All things my kids have at some point tried to swipe on or off.
Looking back over this list, I get a kick out of the folks who complain that they "don't want to have to explain to their children what gay marriage is." Guys, if you can explain any of the above to a child and have them truly get it, then "because they love each other" should be a breeze! Just saying.
Who has another concept that's hard to explain to small children? Add them in the comments section or tweet me using hashtag #kidconcepts!