'Alwigators' in the pond
My three-year-old grandson, Zane, and I were sitting on the dock fishing the other afternoon. Fishing was intense for the first few minutes, but when he did not get a bite in three or four casts, his attention span had reached it limits. He sat d...
My three-year-old grandson, Zane, and I were sitting on the dock fishing the other afternoon.
Fishing was intense for the first few minutes, but when he did not get a bite in three or four casts, his attention span had reached it limits.
He sat down beside me and said, "Grandpa, we have alwigators in the north pond."
"Alligators?" I questioned. "Yes, alwigators!" he stated with all the confidence of one who knows of what they speak.
I did not know he knew there was a north pond or what an alligator looked like. I explained to him, our weather in the winter is much too cold. Alligators can not live this far north. We do not have alligators anywhere around here. He said we do not have them now, but did a long time ago.
Trying to figure out what a long time ago is to a three-year-old is a challenge. A long time ago could be last month or last year. I was confident he was not referring to pre-historic times. I asked him if he meant when he was much younger. "Yes, we had alwigators when I was just little."
When a person at three years of age is talking about something when they were 'just little' the time frame gets narrowed down considerably. I am sure he could not remember something before one year of age. He also would not have been at the north pond during the winter since it is a rather desolate area of the farm and not easy to get to if there is snow on the ground. He therefore must have been having an alwigator discussion at the north pond with someone last summer.
It finally dawned on me; my older son, Walter, was home from Louisiana last summer and helped build fence near the north pond. Zane thinks his uncle is about the greatest. They spent as much time together as the occasion would allow. I can imagine the two of them resting by the pond, discussing life in general. Walter is his father's son. Never give a short simple explanation when a detailed one would do. A log floating in the pond would look like an alligator, which would naturally start a lively discussion of the reptiles and there habits.
At two years old, I am sure Zane only caught the high points of the dissertation and falsely remembered he saw an alligator rather than a log that looked like an alligator.
I remember Walter, only slightly older than Zane asking me where we came from. I thought this rather young for the discussion but nonetheless, took a deep breath and ventured into "the talk". I compared human conception to the animals with which he was familiar. The does and bucks breed in the fall and she has a fawn in the spring. We covered horses, cows, cats and dogs, giving only general reference to humans. I had explained gestation, lactation and the entire birth process, hoping somewhere to answer the famous question, "Where did we come from?"
After about an hour of detailed scientific explanation, I asked if he understood. "Yes," he said, "and that is all very interesting, but Jamie said his family came from Germany." It was then and there I learned to answer the question asked, and be sure to understand what is being asked. We live and learn.
Walter was probably asked by Zane what was floating in the pond and received more information about alligators than he wanted.
If you are in the position to be asked by a child some important question, whether it is about nature or even something you would rather not discuss, be sure to tell them the correct answer to the correct question. And no, we do not have alwigators in the north pond.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.