Monday, February 11, 2008

The Concept of Art

The other morning, my daughter announced that the Kid's Worldbook (an encyclopedia for kids) has the most inappropriate thing in it. She proceeded to tell us that they were in class doing research (3rd grade, mind you) and she had the Kid's Worldbook on D's. And, right there in the book, was David! Naked! "You could see his ding-a-ling!!", she exclaimed.

My husband and I supressed a laugh and asked her if she told her teacher. Yes, she said. I asked what her teacher said. "She said she'd get me a new book."

I can just imagine being a 3rd grade teacher and having to endure the constant questions from kids, especially at this age when they're trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong. In fact, just a week before, we had some long discussions about bad words. She was trying to figure out the meaning of the B word (that rhymes with witch) and the A word (that rhymes with class.) We started by trying to explain the dual meaning of both these words - a female dog and a donkey. How, in certain context, you can use them both and be perfectly fine but that most of the time, they are used in the foul sense, hence, bad words.

This all went right over her head. (Am I surprised?... ah, no.) I went to school to have lunch with her a few days later. She stopped abruptly in the middle of the lunchroom and said "Mommy, I just can't get those words out of my head" Which ones, sweetie, I said (having forgotten all about the bad word discussion.) "B*** (that rhymes with witch) and A***(that rhymes with class.)" But she actually said them... Loudly.

Oh my - you know that feeling when you're whole body kind of freezes up and your lungs squeeze right out of your chest? I was feeling just that way when I kneeled down eye-level with my sweet 8 year old and told her she absolutely may not say those words and there are thousands of words she can fill her head with instead like rainbow, macaroni, sneaker, silly, sunset to name a few. Luckily she took the bait of this game and we spent the entire lunch time thinking up all the nice words that we can fill our heads with instead of... those.

In fact, the reason she is using the "ding-a-ling" word is because she was previously using the B word that rhymes with walls. I know this is not really the foulest of the foul words but certainly not appropriate. One time when she was about 4, she fell while riding her bike, apparently hurting her crotch area. She came down the street crying her eyes out and saying she hurt her B*** that rhymes with walls. We explained that she's a girl and doesn't have any of those... ah, you know.

But this age is truly so sweet. This weekend she was trying to understand the dual meaning of the word gay - which a friend of hers said when they were playing Barbies. "And I was so surprised, Mommy, because right away I thought of a woman and a woman in love but then I realized that she was talking about the happy gay... and today I am very, very gay because it's like spring outside and I can wear shorts!" The other day she was talking about a picture that had the "Grape Ball of China!" Hilarious!

So, did we ever have the talk about appropriate and inappropriate art? Nah. We were rushing out the door at the time. I'll leave that discussion up to my sister, the New York artist, who has probably had many, many discussions with her artist friends about this very subject!

UPDATE: I've had a lot of people ask, so I thought I'd let you know that the psychotic, prehistoric squirrel in front of David is none other than "Scrat" from the animated movie, Ice Age. (This scene is from Ice Age 2.)


Donna said...

Oh my gosh! I am still laughing! Isn't it funny how little minds work. You are so good with her though, explaining things and turning bad around to good. Loved the story Jen!

Manspace said...

Maddie may be enjoying seeing you squirm over these more than anything. I am.
But she will learn more from her parents up to a point and than she will begin to learn in spite of them and some of her teachers.
If she is lucky - Maybe
Love, Dad