Things That Are Difficult To Explain to a Four-Year Old

My four-year old is wise and philosophical, and like all four-year olds, madly curious. He misses nothing, and asks about everything. Here are some things that I’ve been tying myself in knots lately trying to explain.

How to not be affected by nasty people: I’m trying so hard to give my son confidence and teach compassion, and when another four-year old tells him she doesn’t like him, it makes me want to cry and then use some colorful language. Instead, I tell him that if people are mean to him, it’s their problem, not his, because they are missing the opportunity to hang out with a fantastic kid. But so far this hasn’t taken his hurt feelings away.

The importance of charity: He embraces the concept of giving to people in need; what he doesn’t understand is why I sometimes pass by people on the street who are asking for money. If charity is important, and mommy has money in her wallet, shouldn’t we give some to the man on the corner with no money in his? I’ve tried to explain that we can’t give to everyone, and that daddy and I focus our resources and give money and time to organizations that help children, but I can tell he doesn’t completely buy it.

Not everyone agrees on certain principles we believe in – but that doesn’t make them any less right: Recently he asked me “can a boy marry another boy?” I wanted to say yes, because I want my kids to grow up in a world where the answer to this is unequivocal. Do I say yes, in some states? Do I say yes, but some people may tell you no? I just said yes. The result of our conversation was that he later said he wished that his dad had married a boy so that he could have two dads, which I tried not to take overly personally.

Winning isn’t everything, but it does have value: Remember in The Incredibles, when Dash’s mother tells him that “everyone is special” and he responds “…which is another way of saying no-one is”? Achievement is valuable. But how valuable is it? As my four-year old recently explained to me upon losing at foosball: “Mommy, winning isn’t important, it’s about having fun. And I had more fun. So I win.” I think he’s got as good of a grasp on this issue as I have.

These are just some of the questions that are tripping me up recently. What’s the topic of the day in your home? I’m much more comfortable with the questions that have a clear and definitive answer, like “why shouldn’t I have shoved that m&m up my nose?” (True story.)