There is nothing more moving than the glaring honesty of a child. It is not filtered, or manicured, manufactured or checked. It is akin to verbal diarrhea. The brain sends an impulse and the mouth lays it out for all to hear.
A few years ago I was in the grocery store with Jack. When we got to the till I confess I let some air escape, from my behind. The store was very busy (read loud) and in my defence I was probably pregnant. Anyhoo, no one heard. Except for an arse high Jack. With his new found language skills he declared, "Mommy fart. Mommy fart." to the cashier/anyone within earshot, over and over with increasing persistence as I attempted to ignore him and get the heck out of there. Awesome.
When one of my children says to another, "you talk funny" or refers to the neighbour as "the grumpy man who lives next door" I am mortified more often than not. Sometimes it is hard to remember they are not judging, but stating what they perceive to be fact, and I receive the comment coloured by my own experience and/or embarrassment. They are not saying these things to be mean. The neighbour next door looks like a grumpy character from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but also like Santa, so I was able to suggest as much - and as everyone knows Santa is never grumpy. I told them stories about when they mispronounced words because they too were little once and learning. Yet, despite knowing this, it still stings when a two year old makes a comment about my spotty face.
We bring them books, teach them songs, play stacking and sorting games all geared towards differentiation and separation and then we are shocked when they bring their astute observations into the real world. Because you cannot un-ring a bell, and words can hurt, especially when they come out of an innocent face. But we are all different. My children adore being told they are special and unique, so I need to seize the opportunity when they notice that others are different from themselves. To help them acknowledge and appreciate the difference rather than fear and judge. If I wait until they are in the schoolyard it will be too late. Again I am reminded of the steep learning curve that is teaching empathy without loosing individuality.
All this being said, I could have a million dinner guests singing glowing praise for my fare, but it will never mean as much as when Jack starts in about how amazing my cooking is because he is incapable of insincerity. This morning as I was pulling my hair back, Isla announced as if she could no longer contain herself, "Mommy, you are soooooo beautiful!". I have never ben more flattered.