Small Talk

The gross phase

April 29th, 2013

"Mommy, Daddy, I have a surprise for you!" Olivia called sweetly from the yard. I assumed - SO wrongly - that it was the usual flowers she loves to pick.

I asked her to bring it in. She insisted it could only be viewed outside. OK, must be a flower on a tree. We went out.

She led us five feet up the road and pointed to a roadkill toad, guts hanging out one side, and totally flattened on the other. We are both pretty non-reactive and calm people, but I think both our eyebrows arched.

Olivia immediately cackled a high-pitched, five-year-old's best impression of Malificent, while still pointing to the dead toad. "Do you like it?! Ha ha ha ha!"

This was the first time she's ever done something icky like that. It was not the last. I was prepared to give her even less reaction on the next "surprise."

Weeks later, I came home from work to find her bicycling around the street. She wouldn't let me go inside the house. I had to stand and watch her do her made-up tricks with fancy names on this bike.

Finally, she got off and wanted to show me "one last thing." She walked over and picked up a decapitated Barbie, and then pointed to the amputated limbs. This was again followed by semi-evil laughter.

"Why did you do that?" I asked.

"I don't like this doll anymore," she answered, and kept trying to get more reaction out of me.

I wouldn't. I just told her to clean up and I went in the house.

It's a little weird, but then again, she is five. I'm going to just deadpan through this phase until she gets over it. Other suggestions?

3 Responses to “The gross phase”

  1. Rosette:

    maybe the first time you saw the frog run over you should have told her..oh that is sad the frog got run over so she develope empathy...tell her if she doesn't like her toy it doesn't mean she break it on purpose she can donate it ...etc etc...

  2. kuunakanaka:

    aloha Diane:

    i agree with Rosette: there's a lesson Olivia could learn from each "surprise." and at the same time, Diane, little response is all right 2.

  3. Ken Conklin:

    I also agree with Rosette. Each event like this should be treated as a "teachable moment."

    If Olivia is merely looking for attention, she will get that attention as you talk with her rather than getting attention from seeing a grossed-out response.

    If she's trying to show that she has power over animals, let her know she can exercise that power by showing empathy and kindness to living creatures and respect for dead ones ("Olivia, would you like to have a funeral service and burial for this poor dead frog?"). If she's trying to show that she has power over her toys, let her know she can show that power by donating unwanted toys to less fortunate kids.

    On a less optimistic note, I remember that sadistic murderers and serial killers often had a childhood history of torturing and dismembering animals; so you are wise not to merely ignore incidents like the squished frog and dismembered doll.

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