Not so very long ago one of my granddaughters was telling me a story. About four, she is a good storyteller, but her stories can be kind of long and, quite frankly, I don’t always understand every word.
But I do listen.
Anyway, she was telling me a story in the midst of my attempts to get the whole herd wrangled and on the way to town, so we were walking and talking.
Correction. I was walking and she was talking. Anyway, I somehow noticed that my shirt had a spot on it.
Well, truthfully, it had about a dozen spots, some dried paint, and a couple of small holes. I figured I should look a little more presentable to go into town. I wandered into my closet to get a clean shirt and my granddaughter wandered with me, continuing her story. I unbuttoned my shirt, she took one look at me, paused her story and said, “Oh, gross.”
Then she gave me a big smile and continued her story.
I was a little surprised. Not really surprised, mind you, because let’s face it – I say the same thing when I look in the mirror, but it wasn’t what I was expecting from a four year old.
I confess, I didn’t dare ask her what particular aspect of my torso she found so objectionable. The scars and grey chest hair aren’t my fault, although I know I have to accept some responsibility for the belly. I didn’t want to hear details about what she’d found so gross, because there were lots of possibilities. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like hotel rooms – the bathrooms tend to have lots of mirrors and I’ve decided that mirrors are not my friends. I was recently in a hotel bathroom where the sink was in the corner and mirrors covered three walls, so I could get a 270-degree view of my entire body.
Yeah, I didn’t need that.
All I need is just enough of a mirror to make sure I washed the spaghetti sauce out of my beard and my eyebrows are properly combed.
People talk about the charming innocence of the young and the way the truth just pops out of their mouth - it’s so cute. Do those people actually know any children? I’ve always thought that, in general, telling people the truth was way overrated. It might be best if small children just didn’t say anything at all.
Later in the afternoon my wife came home from work, we compared notes, and I prepared to hand the kids off to her so I could get something else done.
She said, “I’ll be back in a minute; I’m just going to go change clothes.”
I looked at the love of my life and yearned to spare her disappointment and heartbreak.
“Don’t do it,” I said, “trust me, just…don’t do it.”
She gave me a look and went off to change, and the little girl hurried after her. When my wife came back I asked her if she’d said anything.
“No,” she said, “why?”
“No reason,” I said.
Life is hard.
Copyright 2011 Brent Olson