Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Uncomfortable Conversations

Today we spent another gorgeous day at the park. I've noticed a pattern to our park days and it goes something like this. Paprika and I will be playing by ourselves. Another mom with her similarly-aged toddler will approach us. The kids will start to play together and the mom and I will chat. After a few moments, the mom will look at me really nervously and say something like, "Does she always talk like that?" or "Wow! She knows an awful lot of words!" Then the mom will get all insecure and will ask me how long Paprika's been talking like that, and then start to worry aloud if her child is developmentally behind.

Today was probably one of the more pronounced instances. We were at the park and this lovely woman approached with her 21 month old daughter. Paprika took the lead and started talking to the toddler (about the bucket Paprika brought, how big it was, that it was hers and that, no, she didn't want to share). The mom about fell over. Then, Paprika went over to the little girl's stroller (while the girl was NOT in it) and showed the toddler how to buckle and unbuckle the safety belt. Apparently, this is not a 20 month old skill. By the end of the encounter, the mom was asking me if Paprika's behavior was normal, if she'd been evaluated by anyone, if her child was behind and needed to see a speech specialist, etc. Needless to say, I don't think we'll be invited on many playdates with this nice lady and her daughter.

I would like to say that this is an isolated example, but it's not. It happens frequently. I would say the most common thing I hear from other moms is that they like Paprika's hat! (Yes, I'm aware it's cute!) The next most common thing I hear is how bright Paprika is. (I'm aware of that, too.) It makes for some uncomfortable conversations, but I am most certainly not going to apologize for Paprika's abilities to make someone else feel better. I mean, I don't broadcast it, but it's pretty obvious that she's a smart cookie and that she inherited it all from her daddy!

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