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Friday, March 28, 2008

Ring of Black

I think it is safe to say that the Tongginator needs to get out more.

On Wednesday I allowed her to play in the backyard *by herself* for the very first time. Now I should explain that I maintained a clear view of her the entire time, since I sat right beside our open sliding glass door. I allowed this to give her the illusion of independence, but I am just as paranoid as the next momma. I spent my time flipping through a book, looking up every minute or so to check on her.

The Tongginator spent an hour: watching a worm inch along our flowerbed; digging up dirt by the evergreen trees; and playing on her climber. She enjoyed herself thoroughly.

That is, until she began experimenting.

I first knew something was seriously wrong when I heard a blood-curling scream. I stood up like a shot and ran outside, frantically scanning the Tongginator, looking for blood or protruding bones. All I identified was a ring of black around her mouth. She sounded hysterical.

I want to come inside! I don't wanna be out here anymore!

: Tongginator, honey, what happened? What's wrong?

TONGGINATOR: I don't wanna play with dirt anymore.

TONGGU MOMMA: Honey, what happened?

TONGGINATOR: I don't like outside.

TONGGU MOMMA:(looking suspiciously at the Tongginator's mouth) Honey, open your mouth for Momma. Let me see.

The Tongginator opened her mouth ... and I saw dirt caked in every tooth groove and speckling her tongue.

: What did you do, honey? Did you eat some dirt? (the Tongginator nodded) Why did you do that?

TONGGINATOR: I wanted to see what it tasted like.

TONGGU MOMMA: Oh, okay. What did you think?

: I don't like it. I wanna come inside.

Now, I know most children enjoy tasting aspects of God's beautiful creation. Typically that experimenting occurs with the under-three set, but I comforted myself by thinking that perhaps the Tongginator is simply more scientific than most four-year-olds. (I of course am ignoring the vivid memory of our neighbor Cherry running into the house to tell me that the Tongginator ate bird poop at 17 months of age.)

I didn't think we should end our first solo outdoor experience on that note. So, instead, I spent the better part of ten minutes giving her mouth an initial wipe-down, and then teaching the Tongginator how to rinse the dirt out of her mouth. She had a grand time swishing water around and spitting it into the yard.

Tonggu Daddy and our neighbor Rosie came over to see what the fuss was about. After the Tongginator's glee-filled report, Tonggu Daddy asked her what dirt tasted like. The Tongginator concluded it "was yucky." Rosie laughed and asked the Tongginator, "well, I guess you won't try that again, will you?"

TONGGINATOR: (stubbornly lifting her chin) Maybe I will.

TONGGU MOMMA: That's fine. You can eat dirt anytime you want. But you need to know that Momma won't help you clean your mouth out again. You'll have to do it by yourself next time. So think about that for a minute.

... long pause ...

TONGGINATOR: Ummmm... maybe I won't.

The child may eat bird poop and dirt, but you can't convince me that she ain't smart.


Rachel Marie said...

You're comeback that she'd have to clean her own mouth out next time she eats dirt was great- that's one I would have thought of hours later (too late for any impression of course)!

Janet said...

Oh dear! That is too funny. I can just see that defiant little tilt of the chin...."maybe I will". Tee hee.

CC said...

Even though we tell ours we won't help again, he still seems to always repeat his "mistakes" over and over. Arrgh! I love how she associated dirt tastes bad = I don't like to be outside. Kid logic!

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh, she's definitely smart! She's brave, too...to eat something that isn't on the dinner table...I bet she's not a picky eater.

Mrs. Darling said...

Oh how cute.

Gerbil said...

Heh. That's funny stuff.

discombobulated said...

I ate dirt too once. What's strange is I totally remember doing it, like it was yesterday. Can't say I sampled bird poop though...