So yesterday, as I was babysitting my five and two year old nieces, I learned some valuable lessons. 1. It’s ok to be silly occasionally, 2. One bite of everything in the kitchen is sometimes the only way you can get a toddler to eat lunch, 3. The Evil Skeleton Man who steals lego trees from lego Yoda’s house can build his own plane to fly after Yoda and his posse when they steal the trees back, HOWEVER, he magically cannot follow them into the cave because… I’m not sure why… but eventually, Yoda feels bad and gives him back ONE of the trees, in which, according to instructions, the Evil Skeleton Man has to immediately return to Yoda’s house and steal again. 4. Almost every toy in America is made in China.
This was pointed out to me by my five year old niece who can read a few small words, and spent ten minutes pointing out to me all the toys she had that said “made in china”. She would find on the toy where it said “made in china”, hand the toy to me so I could see for myself, and then in a conveyer belt like situation, I would then hand the toy to the two year old who would look at it, nod introspectively, and immediately feed it to her doll.
Most of the toys were pretend foods, bananas and little piles of plastic peas and fake spices and little jars of brand-name foods (I suppose, somewhere, some head-hancho in charge at the giant food factories said “We could make a fortune if we designed cheap little fake food toys with our labels, have the Chinese make them for 6 cents an hour, and distribute them throughout America. Free advertising, cheap labor, everybody wins!” ) Anyway… where was I. Oh yes. The made in china fake food.
One of the toys was a small pile of fake rigatoni and meatballs. The five year old hands it to me and says, “I can’t find where it says made in China. But that’s probably made in China too.” I look it over carefully, I say, “Nope, I don’t see it either.” She takes it back, studies it in an apparent obsession to prove herself right (that it was indeed a made in China toy) and finally finds the miniscule print on the edge of one of the pretend rigatoni. Sure enough… Made in China. “Good eye.” I tell her, handing it over to the two year old, who looks it over thoughtfully, nods and says “Yup. China.” I laugh, and we continue our game. As soon as the two year old has all the toys and her doll is pretty full by now, we distribute the “food” amongst the other dolls, stuffed bears and baby princesses. Then the mama has to go shopping for her baby princess, so my five year old niece grabs a baby stroller (ahem, “shopping cart”) and begins to “shop”, an excuse to take all the pretend food back from the dolls and her sister so she can be the only one playing with them again.
The two year old is quick to catch on to this tactic, and the demands to keep certain toys commence. The ice cream, the can of Roserita’s Refried Beans (Traditional Flavor) and a banana. She looks around, she is missing something. As I am telling the five year old to share the toys with her sister, the two year old is uninterested in anything offered. I ask, “What are you looking for sweetie?” And she suddenly demands, “I want Made In China noodles!!”
And from then on, the rigatoni and fake meatballs was referred to as “The Made In China Noodles”, or “China Noodles” for short (because let’s face it, The Made In China Noodles is hard for a two year old to say).
It was adorable to say the least, and she didn’t understand what was so funny to me. But it made me realize that how kids process what they hear (which is everything, EVERYTHING, no matter how quiet you say it or how many rooms away they are, or how hard you deny) is so literal, down to earth and exactly what they see, it makes me wonder where and when in a person’s life between childhood and adulthood do they learn to internalize what they think? A child cannot comprehend not saying what’s on their mind, exactly the way they see it. (Some, albeit, are a little more literal than others. For instance, the pink bow CANNOT go with the green frog, because the frog is green, so it HAS to be the GREEN bow. This, I will never forget. Though, logically, it makes sense.) They all still tend to say exactly what they see.
I’ve been struggling the past few years to overcome the urge to never say what’s on my mind. It doesn’t help that I can’t really pinpoint when it began, or who in my life told me it wasn’t all right to speak my mind (because damn them, it made life difficult for awhile there) Now, for the most part, yes, I speak up when the need arises. But I don’t think I could ever get to the point again that a toddler is naturally. Where the sun is shining because it IS. It snows outside so we can play in it (duh). Where fake plastic noodles made in China aren’t fake, aren’t plastic, and aren’t made in a little Chinese factory with overworked and underpaid “staff”- But they are the baby princess’ lunch. Where the sparkly green bow goes with the green frog because it’s green. There’s no point in analyzing it- the logic is all right there.
I have two memories from when I was two years old. I have a vague remembrance of that “It is because it is” mindset. It makes me wonder, why do I feel the need to over analyze things so badly now?
Why can’t I be like a child and tell things as they are, all while letting my imagination take me on the wildest adventures possible?
The world will never really know when this ability dissipates or how, but it comes at different times for everyone, and in this society… Most often always comes. It doesn’t have to. So, while you’re reading this blog and I’m trying to understand again what a two year old already instinctively knows… I’ll also state that I had the time of my life yesterday, and I love those little darlings with all my heart!!