What do you do when it becomes obvious that your daughter is smarter than you?
For most fathers, this inevitability might happen when their daughter reaches their 20’s, maybe even their 30’s. It’s also possible, I suppose, when they are in their late teens.
My daughter is 3. So that presents a problem – for me. Rapidly disappearing are the days I can make things up, or satisfy a little mind with glib answers.
“The sky is blue, my little darling, because a giant with an enormous blue crayon coloured it in”
“How does he sharpen it?”
“With a huge pencil sharpener”
“Why can’t I see him?”
“Go to your room”
So what does this mean for me, functionally? I need to stay on top of things. I can’t just make stuff up. Missy remembers things now, and as my wife will tell you, I am a very bad liar, I habitually forget what I have said, or trip myself up. I have to tell the truth, (most of the time), purely from a logistical point of view: denying eating a chocolate bar with the wrapper sitting on top of the garbage bin just doesn’t cut it.
Missy even trips me up by reminding me of previously discussed versions as to why this or that happens. As she gains awareness, I try to gain an appreciation that what I say to her might actually impact her life. I can’t, in good conscious, send her off into the wide world thinking that the police really do monitor how many peas little girls eat.
A prime example is from my youth. My dear departed Granny was a character of note. Once, in-between gulps of Gordon’s Gin, she told me that if you eat the seeds from a capsicum (bell pepper) you will die. A little harsh, I think, telling a 10 year old that. But these days I realise it was the probably the Gordon’s talking, rather than any desire to do any permanent psychological damage. In any event, I know now, with 100% certainty, that, in fact, capsicum seeds are not deadly. But without fail, to this day, every time I chop one up while cooking, I religiously and obsessively remove the seeds.
Obviously there are some things that are age appropriate. I will not be debunking Santa, the tooth fairy or the elves that place the ‘sleep’ in her eyes at night, just yet. But more practical things – things like why do we have bones or what happens to the rubbish we throw out, I will try to deal with in a more honest way.
And so, when next my sweet little Missy asks me:
Daddy, why is the sky blue?”
I will answer appropriately:
“Go ask your mother”