The most delightful and astonishing aspect of being a parent to a three-year-old is rediscovering the world through your child's eyes. Everything is simple and straightforward. But their capacity for honesty is just brutal.
By the time most of us reach adulthood, life has beaten the joy out of us. Society frowns upon exuberance outside of music videos and carnivals.
At the mall, Miss Bear receives a fresh pretzel coated in salt, dripping with butter, with a huge smile on her face. She takes a huge bite and proclaims: "YUM! Mmmmmmmmmm...."
Two women standing nearby are startled by this loud proclamation. They turn to look and spot Miss Bear. Their expressions run the gamut: surprise, then delight and finally amusement. They trade grins and one of the women opens her mouth and looks at me.
"Yes, I know," I say. Miss Bear is the curly blonde-haired, blue-eyed pixie poster child for CUTE. "But you wouldn't believe how bad she is."
The woman points to her younger companion. "She was bad too. They grow out of it."
At home, Miss Bear's most important worldly possession is her pink blankie with satin trim, but whatever else she happens to be holding at the moment comes in a close second. She is very fond of a collection of toy animals she owns, including a rubber duck.
I decided to measure her valuation of the duck, so I held it up. "Miss Bear, what do you like better? Your brothers or duck?"
She looked me straight in the eyes and proclaimed, "Brothers!"
At this point, both of the Snark boys were chortling up a storm.
I pointed to The Middle Child who happens to share a close bond with his sister. They play together all the time. He solves her problems and dances to entertain her. He hugs her when she's sad and kisses her boo-boos. As I've mentioned in the past: We call him The Baby Whisperer.
"Miss Bear, duck or this brother?"
"Brother!" she said without hesitation.
I aimed a finger at my oldest son, The Boy. (It was one of those rare occasions when he'd come out of his cave.) "Brother or duck?"
Miss Bear glanced at her brother and frowned. You could see the wheels turning. The Boy pays more attention to our fat gray cat than he does to his dear sister.
The Boy rolled away laughing. At least he has a good sense of humor about being valued below a rubber duck. However, without The Middle Child to tip the scales, it is clear where her preferences lie.
Later, after relating the incident to Mr. Snark, I wondered aloud: "Do you think Miss Bear would choose us over the duck?"
Mr. Snark looked thoughtful. "I think that depends on what happened just prior to her being asked the question."
A parent's life is hard. You can't always be your child's best friend. Sometimes you have to be mean and live with the fact that a rubber duck would win the popularity contest for her affection.