An old girlfriend of mine got her degree in child psychology. One thing she always told me was that children's minds are not completely developed. You should never treat a child like an adult peer because their brains aren't quite up to it. Oh, they may try to act adult-like, but deep down inside, they're not even close. They're like apples and oranges that may look mature but aren't until fully nourished and ready to fall from the tree. I found this to be true. For example, once they reach a certain age, children think their parents are pretty stupid and have no idea what's going on in the world. Of course, their world is only as big as their circle of friends, school, the local hangout and whatever else is going on in the realm of TV and music in the social center of their brains. They might like to think their parents are smart because it only means they are smarter. Somewhere around 13, they turn 30. They're way smarter now and remain so for a number of years to come.
My younger brother recently told me of an experience he had with his 16-year-old daughter. The basement in his home is finished and she has her own virtual apartment down there. Every night, she takes her dinner down to her little "world" and watches TV or whatever. My poor brother and his wife have to eat all alone. Later at night, he checks the house to make sure everything is OK, that the doors are locked and all is well. In her bedroom, he saw the dinner plate and glass sitting on her nightstand. The next morning, he went down to make sure she was getting ready for school and noticed the dishes were gone. Great! She put them in the sink where they belong. How responsible! He went about his business preparing for work. In the meantime, she left for school. When he went into the kitchen, the plate and glass were not in the sink. Hmm. He went downstairs and looked all over. No dishes anywhere. Then he got down on his knees and looked under her bed.
"HAH! Here they are, that little stinker." He left them and placed a note on top of the plate that said CAUGHT YOU! It was his subtle way of saying there's no need to start a collection here. It reminds me of a time past...
Years ago, my old girlfriend, her daughter, Hannah, and I lived in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. We always ate at the dining room table and afterward took turns doing the dishes. Normally, we didn't dirty enough in one night to run the dishwasher. One evening, when it was Hannah's turn, we thought she was washing them as we went about our business. Later on, I went to take the garbage out. As I lifted the plastic bag from the container, it felt pretty heavy for just household trash and I could hear the clanging and clinking of dishes and silverware as they banged into each other. Stupid parents. They'll never know. I called her into the kitchen and told her she would have to pick through all that yucky rubbish to remove each and every plate, glass, knife, fork and spoon.
"Oh, yes you will, young lady. Right now. Did you think your mother and I would not notice that we're running out of dishes and we'd have no idea where they went because a certain someone around here doesn't like to wash them?" I asked. "Oh, by the way, now you'll have to scrub them even harder because they're loaded with all that stinky, smelly, germy stuff ." I gave her a sickening look. She wanted to puke. "Keep looking!" Watching her rummage through that garbage bag with germs worse than cooties was punishment enough and guess what? It was, because she never did that again.
When Hannah was younger, she sometimes forgot to push that very important handle on the toilet, which was never a good thing. Then, one day her "friend" dropped by for the first of many monthly visits and things started to slowly change. She began to pay more attention to her appearance. "Booger" and "poop" weren't funny words any more. Thunderous belches and other loud discharges followed by hysterical laughter were no longer emanating from what used to be quite the tomboy. From then on, they became something only dads and boys disgustingly do. How embarrassing! Girls politely burp. Occasionally, they poot. Big difference, I guess.
Fortunately, my brother's daughter has her own bathroom. I asked him if the counter is cluttered with all kinds of cosmetics; facial creams, makeup, sprays, gels and whatever. Yup, he said. Typical teenage girl stuff. Thank God she doesn't have to share it with anyone else. Maybe, that's why young ladies always look so fresh and clean - it's all that sugar and spice and everything nice they keep scattered around the bathroom. Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, and maybe a dish or two, are kept under the bed, until one day...
Time goes by rather quickly as they grow older. Before you know it, you realize there are a lot more memories and one less plate to wash. She's got her own set now. She's turned out to be quite the peach and her mind is no longer child-like. You take one last look under the bed and there's nothing there.