I feel like we've all heard the story: the precocious child lacking a filter by virtue of being under 5, the humiliated parent standing in a circle of judgement/ridicule/disdain in some public place. These stories are told in the back of parenting magazines and they sound so cliche they've almost lost their punch. Until it happens to you, and then suddenly it's a punch in the groin. You feel that punch in the groin of your brain.
Nico is starting to pay a lot more attention to other people these days. He is interested in their clothes and hair and logos and bags and canes and faces and sizes and pretty much anything that could be remotely considered a distinguishing feature. His nearest and dearest are not exempt from his sometimes blistering scrutiny. Our features and fashion choices meet with approval ("Mommy, I like your hair. I'm so proud of you!"), or his disapproval ("Mommy, take off your belt. It's sthilly.") He drew me up to his bedroom with disconsolate screams earlier this week because there was a hole in his sock. He has suddenly developed a distinct preference for one Thomas shirt over another. He has opinions.No, he has Opinions. And if there is a creature harder to budge than a toddler with opinions I'd really like to meet that creature, and then slap said creature and challenge it to a duel.
Lately he has begun to identify people by some aspect of their clothing, most often the color. A guy in a Bulls sweatshirt will be a "red person". Unfortunately, with the far and away favorite color for outerwear in Manhattan being black, and with us being a minority in a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood it is beginning to result in some situations, to quote the recently infamous sorority letter, that are so FUCKING awkward. If anyone out there also has a two year old yelling "MOMMY, WHAT IS THAT BLACK PERSON DOING?!?" on a subway platform, directed at an older woman in a long black coat using a cane...you feel me.
Obviously it is mortifying in a general way when kids speak out of turn. My little brother famously and frankly informed his day care teacher that she was fat. Red tells a story about describing the exact dimensions of her mother's post pregnancy panties to a waitress in great and emphatic detail. The fact that kids saying embarrassing shit isn't exactly newsworthy or groundbreaking, but, when you're the one standing red-faced on the subway platform in the path of a full and onerous glare...it can feel like you're the only person dealing with that particular problem in that particular moment...never a good feeling.
So, what to do.
I can't pretend that I'm in the position to give advice. And I will admit here that though I know I have to "deal" with this problem I also know that, like all of Nico's quirks and phases, it could likely never happen again, or, alternately, could happen ten times tonight. Living with a child IS like living with a schizophrenic squirrel sometimes - and I mean that in the best way. The excitement! The potential for injury! The sharp little nails and teeth! (Which reminds me...I really have to clip his nails. Tonight tonight tonight.)
I've decided I need to address it with him. If I feel embarrassed I'll apologize to the person, explain if I can. Tell them (and remind myself) that he is only 2 and still learning. Explain to him that sometimes people don't like it when you talk about their clothes or their hair, that this is something to be done in private, usually over a couple of bottles of wine and after a major reunion event.
Next up? Figuring out how to defuse the situation when he insists that the woman sitting next to us on the train is, in fact, a man.
1 hour ago