Rules of the Sandbox

It’s time for a good laugh, and I have the perfect one to share. It involves my daughter, a sandbox, and a fight about a pair of pants.

When my daughter was in preschool she loved to wear dresses. Nothing but dresses. She is my SUPER girly-girl. I mean fierce. I mean like a miniature fabulously flaming gay man.

One morning before school I went into her room and she was wearing a super short dress. Short like it should have been re-purposed as a shirt, which was my intention, but it wasn’t hers. She was wearing this shirt-dress (literally a dress that had become a shirt by then) and her little pink underwear was sticking out of it. She had decided it would be all right to depart the house that way.

I tried the direct route. 

“You cannot wear that dress. It is too short. Put on some leggings.”

“No.”

Okay, let’s go with a practical consideration. 

“Sweetie, it’s colder now that it’s fall. You need leggings or your legs are going to be cold when you’re outside.”

“No. I am not going to be cold. ”

Hmmm. Let’s restate the obvious and see if it takes the second time around. 

“Honey, it is really too short. Please put on some leggings.”

At this point she looked at me, indicating that she was going to dig her heels in. With wide eyes and a louder voice, she declared, “NO. ” Then she turned away, crouched like Gollum, and went back to playing on her rug.

I sighed. How to diffuse the situation?

I took a deep breath, decided to draw on past experience as an example, and offered an explanation, crossing my fingers it would resonate.

“Honey, remember when we went to the park last summer and you played in the sandbox and you wouldn’t wear shorts? And then you got sand in your vagina and it really hurt until we could wash it out?”

She didn’t turn toward me but she did tilt her head to one side. Fierce Gay Gollum was listening.

“Well if you don’t wear leggings then you can’t play in the sandbox at school without getting sand in your vagina and I am really worried it is going to hurt again.”

She turned around, cheerfully responded, “Oh! Okay!”

She proceeded to her closet, pulled out leggings and pulled them on. Then she took my hand and we walked down to the kitchen to have breakfast together.

Inside I rejoiced. Yes! Good parenting moment! The truth and a calm manner rule the day!

Until we got downstairs. In the next seven minutes, she mentioned her vagina, something being in it, and her vagina hurting no less than three times.

My mind started to race. Crap, she’s got vagina on the brain and now she’s going to talk about this at school.

Our preschool principal is like a Jedi morphed with Mr. Rogers mixed with the best kindergarten teacher you ever had. When this woman asks to talk to you, you listen. You sit down quietly, criss cross applesauce, even if you’re in a chair.  And you do whatever she says. Because something inside wants to make her a necklace out of macaroni. She can Jedi mind trick you, I swear she can. And I love her. I have the utmost respect for this woman. And I didn’t want to lose hers.

All I could see was myself getting a phone call from Mrs. Jedi Rogers halfway through my morning. “Hello, I wanted to take a moment to call you because we are a little concerned. Your daughter has been talking about her vagina hurting all morning and something being in it. She also mentioned something about sand, but we’re unsure if this is related?”

And meanwhile the principal is thinking:

  • This woman lost it this morning and screamed at her daughter, “What the hell is your problem?!? Do you have sand in your vagina?!?”
  • It’s time to call DCF because her daughter has been exposed to a pedophile (or even more horrifying, she thinks that pedophile is me)
  • Both of those things have occurred and perhaps we should consider withdrawing our offer for them to come to our school next year

I needed to do pre-emptive damage control. So at dropoff, I pulled one of the teachers out of circle singing time (it has to be really serious to take a teacher out of morning circle singing, dammit) and whisper in her ear that all references to her  vagina were to be taken in the context of the morning’s events. I did this while trying to whisper over the sound of morning circle singing (What’s the Weather) and trying not to have any other child hear me say the word vagina.

On that day, I don’t even think my ob/gyn used the word vagina that many times before nine in the morning.  And that’s her job.  Thankfully, most days, it’s not mine.

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