When out in public, I try to exhibit a fair amount of self control. I try to be kind and courteous and frequently avoid pointing and staring at other people whose appearances I may find peculiar.
Laylee is still working to achieve that level of self-mastery.
Last time we were in Costco, we sat at a table in the cramped food court eating pizza and hotdogs. A couple of boys around 19 years old sauntered over and sat down at the table three inches from us. They were obviously trying to look cool, goatees, soul patches, gelled hair, boxers sticking up out of their pants several inches.
Laylee began to stare at the boy within arms reach of her. Her face started to squinch up in a way that told me I needed to take her mind off whatever bizarre thing she was about to blurt out.
Me: So, Laylee. Do you see the birdies out that window over there?
Laylee [Transfixed by the young man, she reached her finger out to point about an inch from his face.]: Why is that guy wearing earrings if he's a BOY?
Me: Sometimes boys can wear earrings too.
The boy turned a mild shade of pink as his friend erupted into laughter.
Me: My daughter really likes your earrings.
Boy: She didn't say she liked them.
Me: Laylee, do you like his earrings?
Laylee: Yeah, they're big and sparkly, but he's a BOY.
Me: Eat your hotdog.
She could not take her eyes off the giant CZ studs he was wearing. She furrowed her eyebrows as her facial expression turned from confusion to disgust and she blurted out, "Since he wears earrings like a girl, I'm gonna start calling him the GIIIIRL-BOY." This was too much for his fragile ego to handle and he began to eat his chicken wrap with a speed uncommon even for a teenage boy.
Me: He can wear whatever he wants Laylee. How many birdies can you see outside?
Laylee: He's also like a girl because his cheeks are all red like he's wearing make-up.
Truth be told, his cheeks were red partially from embarrassment but mostly from a flaring acne break-out. With that comment, he and his friend got up to leave, his friend making no attempt to disguise his mirth. I shrugged my shoulders and offered an apologetic smile but he studiously avoided making eye contact.
At Costco she also noticed a guy in a wife-beater with multiple tattoos and ooed and awed over his GIANT STAMPS. "I never get stamps that big!"
When she saw a girl in a super-tight shirt she said, "Her shirt is WAY too small. I wonder if she'll give it away to a baby. I think it would fit a baby and a baby would like a really small pink shirt like that."
I'm scared now because she's at THAT STAGE, the stage where she notices everything and feels the need to narrate all of her findings. What do you do to teach your kids manners without taking away their curiosity about the world?