Tales From The Crib

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Future Britney Speersketeers?

The other day my 4-year-old told me she had a secret to tell me.

"Lean over," she said so she could whisper in my ear.

I complied and waited for the usual phrases she utters. But this I was not expecting.

"Britney Spears," she whispered.

My eyes grew as big as saucers and I whipped around to ask how she knows that name.

She smiled, unaware of my fear that she has just discovered who this person is or that I must struggle to explain who she is.

"From TV," she said.

That's probably true. The name is only mentioned every few minutes on the tube. We don't sit down as a family to watch the entertainment news shows, but the TV is often on in the evening to no particular show. So I can see how she would hear the name.

Later, when my husband got home, I told Addie to share the secret with Daddy. She did, and he had a similar reaction.

But this time, he added: "She is a very talented young lady, but doesn't make very good decisions."

The good thing is she dropped it immediately, and I haven't heard another mention of Britney Spears.

But it got me thinking. Do 4-year-olds know who Britney Spears is? Do they talk about her at preschool over crackers and juice?

I realize we are heading into another uneasy part of parenting that involves explaining the actions of public figures, not just how Santa Claus manages to visit each child's house on Christmas Eve.

Can't she just stay like she is - so pure, innocent and unaware of evil in the world? Right now the worst thing my child thinks can happen is that some kid could be mean to her at the park. Last week, she told me a little girl at school didn't want to play with her.

Even that breaks my heart, because I realize that soon she will learn that not everyone is nice and sometimes her feelings will get hurt.

Where was this chapter in the toddler parenting book? It should have been there, in between potty training and tantrums. This is just learn as you go I guess.

I have a hard enough time explaining fairy tales or Disney movies to her. Have you ever thought about how violent these stories are? Hansel and Gretel almost get thrown in the oven. A wolf wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood. A man is about to stab Snow White.


My toddler wants me to explain what Rumpelstiltskin means when he says he will take the queen's first-born child. Um, how do I explain this one?

Even watching the movie "Annie" is a tough one. Addie doesn't know what an orphan is.

Her: "Where is her Mommy and Daddy?"

Me: "Well, she doesn't have one, but she is going to get a new Mommy and Daddy!"

I leave out the part that her real parents abandoned her. I think she thinks the orphanage is just a place where the girls go to play.

I know it won't be much longer before she starts to figure out how the world works. I will have to explain crime and what kidnapping is, that some people just aren't nice and that some parents aren't nice to their children.

But for now I want to cherish this time. I love that she thinks every person, including parents, takes a nap in the afternoon. Or that the Disney princesses fall in love with their fathers, not a boyfriend. Oh, to be 4 again.

* Angie Wagner writes a new weekly column on parenting for Pilot readers.