I should have been a teacher. I wanted to be a play therapist. I even got so far as doing my work experience in the Play Therapy department at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. I never wanted to go back to school after that. How could my life be the same after I had spent those precious few days in paint up to my elbows all in the name of “getting away from it all” with the tiny patients with the tubes taped up their noses and gruesome bandages and bald heads and all sorts? I was changed.
But I didn’t do any of that. And I forewent the opportunity to remain immersed in the wondrous world of the young human being. I love the way children see things, I adore hearing what they have to say. When we were in Japan last year with our family, one of the most fun outings we had was to my nieces’ elementary school. Japanese children are just as comical and inventive as any child in any other classroom in the world. We heard about outlandish mind-reading robot inventions and flying sneakers and food that had wonder-powers. That’s kids’ imaginations for you.
I forgot until I had a daughter who made it to primary school age that children have THE most delightful way of saying things. Cringe-worthy ways. Hysterical ways. Tiny tots become troopers who become little comedians. I hope all those kiddies in the hospital have gone on to amuse their parents in the wildest, most embarrassing ways.
Yesterday, I found myself being talked at (six year-olds have that habit, don’t they?) by one of the LGBB’s little buddies. And even I, with my enthusiasm for what children are saying, found it hard to follow along.
“My mum has a scrubber friend,” she told me with authority. Out of the blue. No lead-in and no “that reminds me…”.
“Oh?” I said. “Wait… she has…. a what?”
“A scrubber. A lady scrubber.”
“Oh! Really!” How the hell do you reply to that?
“Yeah. And she’s got funny hair and a zebra dress.”
Geez. This kid was really not impressing her mother’s friend on me. Was it her bestie? A new friend? Some unfortunate woman with questionable dress sense and a nasty hairdresser?
I sidled up to her mum a few steps later as the girls skipped ahead and said to her, “So… I hear you, uh, have a friend who’s a scrubber. A…. lady friend.” Thinking on it now, that was very bold of me, wasn’t it? No gentle enquiry, but something more along the lines of, “What kind of friends are you keeping?” How did I know their child hadn’t been overhearing a conversation in which she used that term to describe…. ummmm, me? Or someone else I shouldn’t know about? I walked right into it.
The girl’s mother stopped walking, paused just a moment, then bent over double laughing. When she composed herself she explained. Turns out, it wasn’t…
It was, indeed, a scrubber…
And that is why I never doubt children. Not completely. There’s always an element of truth in what they say.