E: “Mom, can I get earrings? Not the sticker kind, but the real kind – the ones that stay in your ears?”
[Mom’s internal response (i.e. not out loud): What?! You’re only FIVE! Why do you want to grow up so fast? You’re already growing up too fast as it is! I didn’t get earrings until I was TWELVE. Wait. Why am I thinking about me? I was the last one in my class to get earrings. There’s nothing wrong with earrings. I mean, lots of people get earrings for their babies. They probably think of earrings the way I think of nail polish, something that’s pretty and sparkly and fun to do with their kids. You love nail polish! I don’t wear it, but you picked it out on a stranger in the mall when you were barely walking by pointing at her red toenails, looking at me with wide-eyes and saying simply, “Mama! Ooooohhh…That!” I’ve pedicured your tiny toes every time you’ve asked since then. We love those pedicures. Such good girl fun for us. We could love earrings. Why should I really care if you want earrings anyway? So what?! We could make a mommy-daughter thing of it. Wait, what am I saying? No, we can’t. I have to make some of the fun things grown up pre-teen things, so that you can look forward to doing those things when you’re twelve, and can feel sort of grown up when you do them. Otherwise, you’re going to want to do or wear other things to make yourself feel grown-up when you’re twelve, and – well, that just isn’t a good idea. I need to make earrings a fun target, so you don’t start focusing on something else when you’re – heaven help me – a pre-teen. I taught eighth grade! I know what’s happening! Not that I judge anyone who does earrings earlier, mind you. I really don’t! I know you have lots of friends that have them. But their parents are probably more creative, and can come up with other fun things for them to look forward to as a pre-teen. Maybe I should talk to those parents and get some ideas…but in the meantime, I mean what am I saying here…I’m saying no! NO, NO EARRINGS! You’re supposed to still look like a newborn, with your big hazel eyes and your curly dark hair and your wrinkly pink skin. I cried when they pricked your toe to get a blood sample for a routine newborn screening, and now I’m supposed to watch them hold an earring-gun to your head? Did I mention that you are only FIVE? We have to start homeschooling. What are you being exposed to? Why on earth would you even ask a question like that? ]
Mom’s external response (i.e. the one E heard): “Um, earrings?”
E: “Yeah, well, someone at school got them, and I liked them. But then someone else said when you get them, it hurts. You know, if it hurts at all, I really don’t want them . . . I don’t have to get them, do I mom?!
Mom: No, E. You don’t have to get them.
And that was the whole conversation. Believe it or not – including “um”, I spoke only 10 words.