Being three years old is heavy going. So many mysteries in the world, existential puzzles. Who painted the walls of our house and made the Bean-girl's shirt blue? Why is it blue and not another color? Why does Mommy buy only the red-capped jug of milk at the store, and not the blue and green and purple and all the other colored milks? And the hermit crab at school that just died. His name was Nemo. Death means that the hermit crab can't move and can't go in or out of its shell.
And love. Love is a mystery, too. Romantic love saturates our popular culture; Disney and fairytale kings and queens--they're teaching my daughter things I've never brought up. It's in the air, it's part of our milieu.
The other night I was taking a bath with the Bean-girl. I'm lazy: if I join her in the bath, I don't have to take mine later that night. Saves time--two baths for the price of one, as I see it. I zoned out in the hot water as she happily played. She was playing with two little hand towels, swishing them about in the water. "Snakes," she called them. I came to, and noticed that she was pressing the corners of the hand towels together, saying Kiss, kiss. The "snakes" were kissing. I jolted awake then. What was the relationship between these towels? Were they brother and sister? Mommy and daddy? Just friends? She was coyly evasive. They're just snakes! she said.
Several days before we had watched Ratatouille with her 9-year old cousins. There is a scene where two characters share their first long, swoony kiss. Why are they kissing? the Bean-girl had asked. Because they're in loooooooove, one of her cousins replied.
And a day or so before that: Bean-girl had gotten out of her bath and pranced about naked. I'm the queen! she said. She pointed at me: And you're the king!
That's nice, I said, trying to catch her in a towel to rub her dry.
She resisted. Kings don't wrap queens in towels! she said.
Oh, no? said I. What do they do, then?
Kings just fall in love with them!
Tonight I was bathing with her again. She was again playing with her two little hand towels, swishing them about in the water. This time they were sting rays (yeah, the kid does have an imagination). She pressed the sting rays together; they were kissing. Why are they kissing? I asked, more laidback than before.
She answered, Because they're in loooooooove!