February 21, 2012
Editor’s Note: Carole Townsend, a correspondent for the Daily Post, is writing a blog called “Food for Thought.” It is available online at http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/townsend.
Have you ever had a young child ask you a question, and you went way overboard on the answer? A family counselor told me once that when a kid asks you a question, keep the answer basic and simple. Stick to the question, and don’t go chasing rabbits. The child only wants to know the answer to the specific question he asked. Period.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and share a story that involves one of our daughters. She’s the one for whom we could never circumvent, never sugar-coat, answers. She was also way ahead of her years, tuned in to things you’d think no child should ever think twice about. In other words, she’s kept us off balance for more than 20 years now.
When she was about 7 or 8 years old, she and I were driving to Target. I remember this like it was yesterday. She asked me, “Mommy, what is a virgin?” After nearly running the car off the road and swallowing my own tongue, I launched into one of my patented way-too-long explanations. Carefully choosing my words, I tiptoed my way through the definition, touching on words like “love” and “respect” and “never.” I remember using “never” a lot.
I sweated. I stammered. My heart pounded. I went on for about five minutes, trying to explain to my little innocent baby what a virgin is, all the while wondering where on earth she heard that word in the first place.
She let me finish, listening intently and nodding in all the right places. When I thought I had talked enough, explained enough, to my daughter, she got very quiet for a minute, the wheels in her sharp little head turning ferociously.
She then turned to me and said, “Oh. I thought it was just somebody who doesn’t eat meat.”
Trust me, when a child asks you a question, keep the answer short and sweet. It’s better for everyone in the long run. I still wonder to this day if that episode is the reason my daughter won’t eat her vegetables.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide.