Life isn’t fair. As adults, we know it, we see it, we live it. For children, they learn this uncomfortable lesson in different ways. Sadly, my toddler son sees it all the time. Not all people follow the rules. Not all people do what they’re supposed to do. And even though they aren’t, we will continue to do the right thing. The “right thing” doesn’t always match with what my son sees out in the real world, and I am sometimes at a loss for explaining what he does see.
Here are my top five things I can’t explain to my son.
- Billboards showing women wearing their underwear. My son is learning that only ladies wear bras and that mommy doesn’t leave the house until her bra is on and a shirt covers her bra. Mommy can’t go outside wearing only her bra, yet there are large billboards all over town showing strange women in their bras and underwear.
- Adults wearing pajamas while shopping at the market. My son knows we don’t leave the house until he is dressed. (Sometimes getting dressed is more of a struggle than others). Yet, on our weekly visits to the market, we see adults shopping in their flannel pants or their Hello Kitty tee-shirt and drawstring pants.
- Men standing on a street corner in their underwear. A few months ago, five minutes away from our home, three men stood on a street corner wearing boxer shorts, shoes, socks, and neckties. They held signs advertising a new men’s clothing store that opened nearby. Adults were getting paid to do something my son (and his father) aren’t allowed to do - stand outside in their underwear.
- People littering. As soon as my son was old enough to understand, he was taught that we do not throw trash on the ground. We don’t throw trash anywhere except a trash can or recycling bin. Accidents happen, things fall, but we pick them up. And we do - we pick up the stray raisin or cheerio that has escaped my son’s grasp and fallen under the table of the restaurant we’re eating at. Other people don’t.
- Not all people wait, share, and take turns. This a biggie. It’s hard for little ones (and not-so-little-ones) to understand you can’t always have what you want, when you want it. My son knows that sometimes he has to wait for a turn on the slide or he has to get off the swing after a while so another child can have a turn. Apparently, not all parents are teaching their children these lessons.