10/21/14

A Figurative Milestone, Literally . . .

As I continue to fumble my way through the best way to "parent" a child (eight years, two months, and a few weeks and still no negligence, blatant harm, or ill-intent) I often have moments where I feel good (like at a parent teacher conference). I have moments where I feel frustrated (like when I can't get my child to believe me that the outfit I picked out for her matches - even though it DOES). These are fine . . . I am comfortable with them but then there are also moments when I pause and think . . .  "This is real. I'm (helping to) mold a real person who will someday provide (I hope) great value to herself and the world around her."

Witness Sunday evening when I had this moment.

The kid, being of sound mind and body, is pretty independent for bath time. I still draw the water and add the oils/bubbles (she has a tendency to make it too hot or too cold (to dangerous levels) and/or to put bubbles in to fill the house or oils enough that the surface becomes truly dangerous to stand on for weeks to come) and I lay out her towel and PJs (I can't let her grow up - sue me) but then I just sort of do what I'm doing and she bathes . . . for 45 - 60 minutes.

I listen . . . in that "too silent - must be trouble" way, mainly. And I hear the randomest things! I was walking by the bathroom and I heard her say "I will figuratively break you in half" (to one of her toys - she rarely threatens to harm my person and, even when she does, it is in good fun).

So I stop in my tracks . . . dead in my tracks.

Did she just say "figuratively"? Properly? In a world where kids, adults, pundits, and even world leaders confuse their intents and actions as being "literal" all the time . . . does my kid know the difference?

This is a vocabulary and grammar nuts dream come true! This is like the dad who had his athletic career cut short seeing his kid hoist the state championship trophy before taking over the family business. This is HUGE!

I press her . . . "Hey - uh - can you repeat what you just said?"

"Sean-Daddy," she says (that is her thing for me) "You know that I would not literally break my toys. I just want to threaten this fish toy so he's nicer to that fish toy."

Tears. Of. Pride.

"So if I said 'I will literally break you in half?'," I asked.

"I would be upset because I don't want my toys broken or ruined."

So I gave her five or six scenarios where "figurative" and "literal" might be confused . . . "I am literally the hottest person in the world." (she actually said it was figurative unless the person was in an oven) . . . "I am figuratively exhausted." (could be either, she pointed out . . . what have they been doing) . . . "I am so hungry I could literally eat a horse" (some cultures eat horse meat but few Americans do - it can be very tough for chewing).

She may still grow up to be a disaster like her old man but . . . for right now . . . she's at least got her figurative head in the clouds and her literal feet on the ground.