Kids are precocious. They are inquisitive and full of questions, and most of the time, these are good qualities. Parents want their children to explore the world and seek answers because that encourages further learning. This is why adults, since the beginning of time, have told kids that there is no such thing as a silly question.
Spoiler: Yes, there is.
The problem, however, is that there is no way of knowing when and why a child asks a question. When they see something that makes them wonder or gives them pause, they will more than likely blurt out the questions they have about it at that very second. Without warning and without permission. Without a filter or a modicum of a clue as to what is deemed socially acceptable.
When encountering a stranger, there are a myriad of questions the young ones might have. Some pertain to the unfamiliar person's appearance, and some are regarding something that the stranger might be doing.
Either way, the questions are often blurted out with the tenacity of a beat reporter and the volume of a circus announcer.
The best part? All eyes usually turn to mom the minute the child's mouth closes.
By adulthood, you know that this is a non-question question. A stranger could be nine months along and timing contractions, and most of us would still hesitate to ask.
But kids - God bless 'em. They will not hesitate to toss out this line of questioning to anyone with a less-than-flat stomach, regardless of gender. When my daughter asked this to her preschool teacher - who was not, in fact, pregnant, I lost my ability to speak.
Because what can you even say to save face? "No, I swear you don't look pregnant. She's super into pregnancy right now and thinks everyone is pregnant. Really. Um, yeah. I-I don't know why I'm sweating profusely. Is that my phone? I have to take this."
Yep. When my son was three, he LOUDLY asked a gentleman at Starbucks if he was a boy or a girl. And this fella was jacked; muscular, tall, and sporting a day's growth on his face. He could've been a cover model for Manly Man magazine and sort of looked like he'd just come in from chopping wood.
To my kid, though, the hair made him a question mark.
Thankfully, the dude laughed and took it well. But wow - wouldn't it be nice if we had an emergency mute button for our little munchkins?
Ah, the May/September romance. It isn't the norm, but it definitely happens. An older man and a significantly younger woman, falling in love regardless of the number of years that are stacked in between them. It can happen.
Seriously. It can work, right?
Adults understand this, but kiddos - not so much. It seems quite reasonable for them to assume that the twenty-something woman at the table beside them in the restaurant and her fifty-something companion are father/daughter.
What isn't reasonable is expecting their mother's cheeks not to go full-on pink the minute they ask the question.
This question was actually asked of my baby, and, well, I'll be honest; my son had a huge melon of a head. It didn't phase me at all, because I knew he would eventually have to grow into that thing, right?
The mother of the little girl who asked me that didn't find it nearly as funny as I did. She floundered a bit and assured me that my kiddo's head was adorable and totally normal while her face turned pink. If she could've vanished into thin air at that moment, I totally think she would have.
Technically, the question is just a very general inquiry. Like - where did it all go? Everyone else has some, so where is yours? There is nothing impolite about the query if you think about all the context that a child doesn't have regarding men and baldness.
It's too bad we don't have a pause button because mothers are good about guessing what is going to tumble out of their child's mouth just before it happens. You see your toddler staring intently at a man's hairless head, and you just know what is coming.
Unfortunately, we've yet to tap into the world of time manipulation, so we just have to deal with the fallout.
When my sister's son said it, he was staring directly at an intense-looking woman who had no less than ten piercings on her face. It was at the packed-and-waiting lobby of the DMV, so all of the waiting drivers got to enjoy it. Did the pierced woman appear to find it funny? Did she think he was hilariously precocious and adorable?
Um, no - no, she did not.
She glared at the 5-year-old, who continued gazing upon the glory of her bejeweled face. My sister's face, however - not so glorious. Beet red and a bit dewy.
This was said in awe, with the reverence one might reserve for a celebrity or professional athlete. A mom in St. Paul, MN, listened in surprise as her bespectacled, curious little son stared up at a man in a restaurant and shouted those words.
And no - the gentleman was not a "hobo." He was a hipster. The dude was in his thirties, rocking a mustard-yellow cardigan and a beard that probably required a significant amount of daily upkeep.
Ahem. Is there any way to spin "hobo" into a compliment?
Just because a man has silver in his hair, he isn't necessarily a grandpa.
A mom in Omaha wished she would've had the chance to teach her 6-year-old daughter that ever-important lesson before introducing the little sweetheart to her boss. Because her boss, a man who was under 40, worked out like an NFL hopeful and was not lacking in overconfidence, seemed extremely taken aback by that question.
This mother, however, will not be taken aback when she gets passed over for a promotion.
There is a time and a place for everything. Everything, that is, except for insulting a man's ride. When the little one gasps and points at the vehicle parked beside you that is held together by duct tape, maybe just point them in the other direction and walk away. Quickly.
Because according to one of our moms, men can get downright terse in a parking lot when their car is laughed at by a toddler.
Those of us who learned to drive with clunkers that were rigged with wire hangers, electrical tape, and clear plastic, however - we can take the joke and would've appreciated the question. #lightenupdude
Men with white beards have to be used to this, right? As embarrassing as it may be when your child calls a forty-five-year-old man Santa, you kind of expect the dude to own it a little. If a grown-man grows out his snowy-white facial hair until it's as bushy as Saint Nick's, he has to know this kiddie call-out is a very real possibility.
But who could be mad? If you think about it, these kids are totally stanning Santa. Jolly old St. Nicholas has them fangirling all over the place, singing songs and writing letters, so if they mistake you for him, well, that’s kinda cool.
No, this wasn't said to someone dressed in shoes that curl up at the toes or someone wearing a red hat with a bell on the tip. Nope - that would've made sense. This was actually said to a man who stood right around 5'5".
That was what made it so blush-inducing to the mom, the fact that the gentleman at the mall looked nothing like an elf. He was merely a little shorter than average, shopping in non-elfin clothing and minding his own business.
She smiled and managed to murmur something about how he didn't look like an elf, but there was not going back. That man probably spent the rest of his shopping trip thinking, "Do I look like an elf?"
Out of the mouths of babes, right? What is there to even say when a kiddo says something irrefutably true? When the person he's called out does, in fact, have hair that clearly has not seen a brush yet?
We could go with just a shrug and a sheepish grin, a mom's unspoken version of Well, what're you gonna do? Or maybe we should just pretend we can't hear the words our children are saying.
Or better yet, can we just escape without a word? Next time your kid says something that coaxes a little color to your face, just turn and walk in the other direction as if it didn't just happen. #avoidanceworks
Yeah, my 3-year-old daughter said this to a fellow toddler while we were shopping at Target. Apparently, my words sometimes do sink in, as she repeated the exact thing that I say to her on a daily basis. "Why are you yelling? Don't cry - use your words."
It was a little funny, but the mother of the squalling toddler eyeballed me with a heavy dose of get-your-kid-in-line. And I couldn't blame her. It probably came across as completely judgmental behavior from a mini-person; she had no way of knowing that my kiddo was attempting to be helpful.
I felt my cheeks heating as I turned and nearly ran with my cart in the other direction.
Millions of people have tattoos. They're so common now that most of us don't even blink an eye when we pass someone with a full-on sleeve. It's like shoes, earrings, and handbags; accessories that are a bit more personalized.
But kids see things differently than adults. They're equipped with detail-hungry eyes, eyes that take in every little thing. Whether we want them to or not.
So when a little boy noticed a hissing snake inked upon a man's arm, he straight-up told the dude what he thought, no-holds-barred.
Much to his mother's chagrin.
Buffets are a favorite if the USA. All-you-can-eat are four words that most of us can totally get behind, right?
But when a little girl happened to see a table full of football players at her local pizza buffet, her mind was blown. She was too young to be aware of things like carb-loading, but she was old enough to know it was too much food.
So what did she do? Well, she stopped at their table, stared at their heaping plates, and proceeded to excitedly comment on the massive portion sizes. At an impressive volume.
She continued on to the dessert buffet while her mother stammered through awkward explanations.
How to answer this gem? You could go vague, something along the lines of "The doctor gets it out for me." It's barely a fib, and just boring enough to make them forget about their query entirely.
Another option is a straight-up lie. You can use the old stork story, but it gets dicey if the child tries to pin down at what point in the baby process a bird with a giant beak comes in. Pre-hospital? After your water breaks?
And, of course, you could go the honest route. You could tell that meddling child exactly how you're planning on getting that baby out of your body.
That way, if the child's question didn't turn their mother's cheeks red, your answer most definitely will.
I'm not a fast runner, especially not when I'm pushing a child in ye ol' jogger stroller. So when my son said that to a woman we were passing, words cannot express how badly I wanted to disappear.
Because not only was that jogger the opposite of slow, she was also equipped with all the long-run accoutrements that let me know she is a marathoner. The belt thing with the water bottle, the other runnerly things that I cannot even identify; this chick was the real deal.
And my little peanut dissed her.
I do think I probably ran my personal best that day, though, because I had to keep my pace fast enough to avoid seeing that lady again.
It's not the worst question in the world, right? I mean, there are a lot of people who choose not to wear makeup.
It does tend to make a mom's cheeks tingle, though, when her kiddo poses the inquiry to a fellow mother who clearly is having one of those mornings. Bedhead, no makeup, rumpled clothes, and crying baby; we're all familiar with that kind of day.
So the only thing that helps a morning like that is an inquisitive little kid, noticing just how pale and blotchy your complexion is. Still looking for that mute button...
The world is full of unfairness, but is anything more unfair than the harsh reality that some silver-haired woman gets to ride around on a scooter while you, a fresh-faced toddler, has to use your legs and walk?
The answer is a definitive NO.
We completely understand why one mom's little boy whined and pointed as the lucky lady scooted on by. We totally get it when he yelled, "No fair!"
Sometimes you just want to ride, right?
His mother, however, was less supportive than we of his loud resistance.
It's fun for kids when they see neighbors at the grocery store. Something about the new location makes it different and exciting. It's as if they've never considered where the neighbors go when they drive away from their house.
But sometimes seeing what's in the neighbor's grocery cart is not such an exciting thing. Imagine the color of this mom's cheeks when her kiddo commented on the items in their next-door neighbor's cart.
And there’s nowhere to run with this one. Even if you find an awkward way to bail quickly out of the store, those neighbors are always going to be next door.
Sources: Daily Mail, Pinterest, Huffington Post, NY Post, Marie Claire, GQ, Gawker, USA Today, The Observer.