The screech from the ironing board made my daughter jump. “Daddy, what’s making that noise?”
“That’s the ironing board,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“What did it does?” She questioned, peering intently from the hallway.
“What does it do?” I corrected her as I rushed around the kitchen locating the starch and the iron to press my blouse for work.
“Daddy,” her emphasis on him let me know that she was not talking to me. “What does it do?” She repeats, almost mockingly.
“It holds the clothes as someone irons.”
“Why does someone iron?”
“To get the wrinkles out of clothes.”
“What are wrinkles?”
Have you ever tried answering such an innocuous question at 6:15 in the morning in a way that a four-year-old can understand, sans dictionary or computer, running on about 3 hours of sleep? If you haven’t, let me just tell you, it isn’t easy. To make matters worse, the more questions you answer, the more questions the little one generates.
What you realize is that all the degrees, certificates, awards, accolades, and pats on the back mean absolutely nothing because you can’t even explain what a wrinkle is. Sure, you reading this at home can probably tell me now, but if you hadn’t thought about it for a few minutes before having to answer, what would you have said? And remember, the whole point of answering a question five minutes into a questioning session is to answer in a way that doesn’t prompt more questions, not because you want to stifle the intellectual growth of your child, but because you’re running late for work, you still need to pack something for lunch because you have no money to buy anything and you definitely don’t have time for breakfast, and most importantly, you already feel like a simpleton and don’t want the next question to stump you even more. At some point in the litany of questions, you decide that a distraction is due.
“Go put some food in the dog bowl, please.”
My husband was shaving as I was taking my shower. We were laughing to ourselves about how although we know what a wrinkle is we can’t explain what it is. Of course, my daughter comes upstairs, hears the conversation, and then asks me (now, all of a sudden you want my input, huh?). Here was my attempt: “A wrinkle is something that makes your clothes not look smooth. That’s why we iron. We want our clothes to look smooth, so we iron to get the wrinkles out.” Phew, that should do it, right? Wrong!
“But Mommy, are the wrinkles bad?”
“Well, they’re not bad, but they make your clothes look messy.”
“Mommy, we don’t want our clothes to look messy?”
“No, Baby. We want to look neat.”
“Well, what color are wrinkles?”
“Whatever color the clothes are.”
“Then how can you get them out if they are the same color as the clothes?”
“Wrinkles are actually a part of the clothes.”
“Do you have holes in the clothes when you take the wrinkles out?”
What the heck! I don’t know how to explain this. If I were still ironing, I would just show her. No, I wouldn’t because then she’d try it herself, and I think I like having her around instead of with Child Protective Services for trying to get the wrinkles out of her sister when she gets out of the tub. (Yes, I have those kinds of kids. No judgments, please.) Realizing that I was on the losing end, I opted for, “Make up your bed so that you can get ready for school.”
Mental note to self: Iron when the kids are still sleeping.