Today in the car, as we pulled into the driveway, BJ made the following proclamation. (And yes, given the gravity with which he made the statement, proclamation is the appropriate word to use.)
"Only I get to have an erection."
Now where the hell did he hear about erections??? I thought, taken utterly aback. "What did you just say?" I asked him, trying to sound neutral.
He repeated his statement with complete clarity. Of course my mommy mind had revved up into overdrive even as I was putting the minivan into park: Somebody at preschool has been talking with him about the birds and the bees. Or he's seen something completely inappropriate on the television, though I have no idea when that would have happened since we almost never watch TV. Or God, what if it's worse than that, he's been molested? Or calm down -- calm down! Maybe S has had a conversation with him but didn't tell me about it....
I took a deep breath. "Who told you about that, honey?"
"You did, Mommy."
I did? I did??? At this point I'm just about convinced that I must have had a sharp blow to the head, inducing selective amnesia, because I know I would have remembered talking in such explicit terms with him.
When he repeated himself for the third time, I burst out laughing, realizing what he was actually saying:
"Only I get to have an ELECTION."
He was talking about the yard sign I'd put up this morning, the "Equality for All" sign imploring folks to vote NO on Proposition 8 (the one that attempts to take away the right of gays to marry). When he'd seen the sign, it had prompted a fairly involved discussion -- involved for a 3-year-old, at any rate.
No, I didn't get into the specifics of the proposition, I just talked a bit more with him about what an election is. (He's already noticed all the OBAMA signs and asked about them, so it's not like this came out of nowhere. I wish our sign would get here, BTW!) We also talked about how elections can make rules that we all have to live by, and how we believe it's important that everybody plays by the same rules, how it isn't right when things aren't fair.
After all, Playing By The Rules and the importance of Things Being Fair are parameters that a preschooler can understand. (Never mind the fact that he was trying to appropriate the entire political process to his own selfish preschooler's ends. He's really into this "Only I get to..." thing these days, and this is just one more example. As in "Only I get to like the color red!")
Anyway, we'll worry about the intricacies of gender identity and sexual preference at some point in the future. Probably at about the same time that the word "erection" does, in fact, enter his vocabulary.
Much as I love talking with my kids, much as I am dedicated to always being open and honest with them, I confess that I don't mind waiting quite a bit longer before those complicated, important conversations take place. Right now I'm just fine with talking politics on a level a preschooler can understand.