Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pills, Princesses, and Lessons Learned

Last night the girls told me that they went for a litter walk at daycare. They solemnly informed me that they found some of "those bad smoking things." This opened an entire discussion about cigarettes, smoking, and just saying no to harmful practices. As usual, their favorite part of the discussion was role-playing different situations where someone might ask them to do the Bad Thing, and practice different ways of refusing.

Being the astute Mommy that I am, I saw an opportunity to throw in other potential peer pressure situations, involving other potentially harmful things/practices (or things that aren't kosher within our religion or just within our family). What if your friend wanted to show you her underwear? What if she wanted you to drink coffee? What if someone told you to take a toy from the store without paying? You get the idea.

I tried to bring up drugs in a way that a barely 5- and almost 6-year old could understand.

"What if your friend said, 'Hey Mia, want to try some of these cool pills I got? They're like medicine and they make you feel all weird and good.'"

Mia looked confused.

I tried again.

"Hey Mia, my older sister said they're really great. You just pretend they are medicine and swallow them. It will be fun--wanna do it?"

Mia still looked confused.

I stepped out of my role-play to be Mommy.

"Remember how we talked about not pretending anything is medicine, Mia? And only taking medicine when Mom or Dad gives it to you?"

Mia nodded.

I tried one more time.

"So, Mia, do you wanna take these pills? They're super fun."

Mia still looked confused. I decided to terminate this particular role-play for a round of more didactic teaching. Just as I opened my mouth Mia spoke up.

"I just have one question about the pills..."

I nodded encouragingly.

In total barely-5 year old earnestness she whispered in a scarcely-daring-to-hope-voice,

"Will they turn me into a princess?"

Ah, innocence is such a sweet and fleeting thing. Is there a way to wrap a little bubble around my wee ones, and keep them in this place where the only reason anyone could offer a *magic* pill would be setting their inner royalty free? Where a friend asking to see your underwear, or, heaven forbid--offering a sip of coffee--, is the worst temptation you might encounter?

Maybe that's why we guard childhood so fiercely, and enact such harsh penalties against those who destroy youthful innocence. We know how brief--and how very, very precious--these short bits of eternity are.

"Let them be little,
'Cause they're only that way for a while.
Give them hope, give 'em praise,
Give them love every day.
Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle,
Let them sleep in the middle,
Lord, let them be little."


Becky said...

That was beautiful! No, that pill turns you into an ogre with some serious addiction problems. It's so true that so many, even a majority of people, recognize the innocence of childhood and those who defile it in any way are the most base of creatures.

Thanks for the book. I shall attempt to read it once I hit another JA mood.

Monica English said...

Your daughter's comment made me just laugh. Your ability to take a simple moment and turn it into a opportunity to teach your kids about right and wrong inspired me. You're a good mom.

Holly Schwendiman said...

Awwww how sweet that innocence is!