Are Your Nipples Magic?
“Daddy, do babies have tiny nipples?” my 4-yo, Bodhi, asked me, lounging in a fresh pair of PJs.
“Yes,” I answered from the couch, flipping through a magazine. His thumb hovered just above his full lips, as he continued, “Do 2-yr-olds have bigger nipples than babies?” “Yes,” I said. “Do 3-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 2-yr-olds?” “Yes.” “Do 4-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 3-yd-olds?” This earnest line of inquiry continued through 11-yr-olds, at which point, I believe my son had cracked the code on the relative size of human teats.
Unfiltered curiosity is the superpower of young kids. It opens any doors and defies all protocol.
Bodhi recently walked up to an obese man in a wheelchair and asked him straight away, “How did you get so fat?” The man waved off my mortified apologies, leaned down and said, “You know how your Mommy tells you not to eat potato chips and candy and to eat healthy snacks instead?” “Like carrots?” Bodhi asked. “Yes, like carrots. That’s what you should do. I didn’t do that,” the man admitted readily.
I am confident this exchange was enjoyed and appreciated equally by the fat man and the skinny boy, for 2 reasons:
1. We appreciate unfiltered honesty, in both questions and answers. 2. We love to witness the seeds of knowledge being collected, sorted and planted by children.
Nice Fro, Bro, acrylic, paper on canvas, 36″x48″, 2005, Stuart Sheldon
The Radical Honesty of children is a theme I come back to again and again. Because, when it comes to effective communication, that is where we adults so often fall short.
We dance around our issues. Hint at our intentions. And guess at the meanings of the answers we receive. Our young ones are unashamed to ask exactly what it is they wish to know, and to continue asking until they understand. The result is that they obtain the precise information they seek. And they listen intently to the answers we provide, often citing them months or years later, when we least expect. I am awed by their retention.
Same goes for observations; they call it like they see it. And help us see ourselves more truthfully.
Nothing is off limits: our blemishes, our genitals, various patches of hair, morning breath, who is nice, who is scary, how people “get dead.”
I cannot get enough of this unbridled commentary, and I know I will miss it when our kids get older and self-consciousness infiltrates their being.
And, for all of the less than decorous comments, their gung-ho minds also grace us with random tender pronouncements and acts of kindness. Day before yesterday, Bodhi blurted through a mouthful of spaghetti, “Mommy, I think I’m gonna be too shy to marry someone.” Recently, our 6-yo orchestrated a surprise I Love You party for his mother. He instructed me very precisely. And, for no reason at all one morning, Jodi woke to a house full of balloons and a trail of freshly picked plumeria from the bedroom to the kitchen, where our boy insisted I make her an omelet. Needless to say, mommy was floored (as was daddy by the mere notion).
The lessons here are fundamental: be ever curious, thoughtful, inquisitive, spontaneous, incisive and forthright. It serves our kids well for a reason.
So, yes, Bodhi, babies do have tiny nipples. And it is amazing how they get bigger and bigger as the baby grows. And it’s even more amazing that one day, if the baby is a girl, she can grow up and have her own baby. And that new baby will magically get food from her mommy’s nipple, which will have grown quite a bit since she was a baby.