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Snoopy's avatar

What is the strangest thing you have ever found yourself trying to explain to a toddler?

Asked by Snoopy (5798points) October 22nd, 2008

Not to share too much, but my 3 year old just walked out of the bathroom w/ a box of sanitary napkins. I found myself in the position of trying to explain what they are for…..while she stared at me w/ furrowed brow w/ her mouth slightly agape. Has this ever happened to you….?

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46 Answers

Knotmyday's avatar

The concept of death. It wound up being an attempt to describe life, which was so much harder…

marinelife's avatar

I was taking care of my twin nephews. I made the hideous mistake of having a phrase my mother used throughout my childhood pop automatically out of my mouth.

I said, “Ian, come here and let me comb your hair. It looks like a bird nested in it.”

Being a literal little creature, he burst into hysterical sobs, and began running around the room brushing at his hair while screaming, “Get it out. Don’t want bird in my hair. Get it out!!!!”

After much sturm und drang, I managed to calm him, tell him there was not a bird in his hair, and proceed to explain (completely futilely) the concept of a figure of speech to a three-year-old.

When I recounted this to my sister—their mother, I got heavy eye-rolling and a withering glare at my ignorance..

Snoopy's avatar

LOL Marina.

I am full of pithy little colloquialisms. I can totally relate….

(on the flipside….I actually said to an elderly man to encourage him to move a little faster: “C’mon now! Quick like a bunny!” I felt like an idiot.)


skfinkel's avatar

I’m finding myself anticipating talking with my grandchild (again) about the absence of her grandfather. I talked to her about it when she was an infant, holding her close and telling her how much her grandfather would have loved her, had he lived. That is a conversation I expect to have to have with her again, I guess several times in different ways as she grows and understands more.

Knotmyday's avatar

marina- wow- never underestimate the scorn of the “other mother.”

Snoopy's avatar

skfinkel When she is older, I am sure that they will appreciate all of the stories that you are bound to share w/ her….

autumn43's avatar

After swimming, my three year old toddler boy came back crying to me. “What’s wrong?” “The bone fell out!” “The bone fell out of what?” “My tinkler!” Apparently it had been hard before or while swimming and then….it wasn’t! LOL!

I didn’t explain it though. I left it up to his dad – who was the one that named it a tinkler to begin with!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Autumn, mine is quite the same. My son is also three and has asked me twice why it sometimes “sticks out” and how he can make it “go back”. I’ve tried explaining it, but it is a difficult arena to conceptualize to a 3yr old.

He knows his body parts (including urethra, bladder, colon-etc) but…well, you explain an erection to someone this age in a way that he won’t use it inappropriately at a later time!

I’ve tried the “blood flow” discussion, but it didn’t satisfy his want of making it “go back”.

Mr_M's avatar

How mommy and grandma just went (to the hospital) to get a new baby brother or sister.

chyna's avatar

Explaining to a 5 year old that was not related to me why I did not have a father (he had died). It was my first meeting with the child and he wanted to know if I had a dad, then why not and where was he? I was only 20 at the time, and had no idea how to explain this to a child.

arnbev959's avatar

Things like this:

Me: “Why is the sky blue?”
Kid: “Because blue is my favorite color.”

Me: “Do you have an older brother?”
Kid: “Yes.”
Me: “Does your older brother have a little sister?”
Kid: “No.”

Egocentric little creatures.

Snoopy's avatar

@pete try having two egocentric little creatures :)

augustlan's avatar

Not a toddler, but explaining 9/11 to my 5, 7 and 8 year olds was the toughest one. That and the DC Sniper. Hate having to explain evil to children.

gimmedat's avatar

Why bad words are “bad”. I had to explain to my son that it was unacceptable to call the nurse who gave him a shot a bitch. His little preschool face was all scrunched up when he explained to me that that’s what dad calls all the women who cut him off in traffic. Nice.

cookieman's avatar

We were at checking out at a nice little food store in Harvard Square. Like most children, my five-year-old daughter likes to “pay” the cashier.

So I hand some bills to my daughter while we wait in line and say, “Here honey, hand this to the lady.”

She says, “But Bah, it’s a guy.” Just then I look up to see a very obvious transvestite working the register.

Now it’s our turn so I say, “Okay Boop, pay the lady.”

“It’s a guy”, she whispers insistantly.

So we hurry out the door onto the sidewalk where she tugs on my shirt and says, “Bah, that WAS a guy…right?”

It was a looong walk back to the car.

MacBean's avatar

I was about 16 years old myself at the time. I was on vacation and staying with my uncle. His house was rather overcrowded at the time, so my choice was to either sleep on the floor (which my back has never been good enough to handle) or I could bunk with two sets of twins (ages 4 and 9) in my uncle’s king-sized bed while he and his wife took the fold-out couch.

So. I’m sixteen years old, trying to fall asleep while buried under two four-year-olds, and the two older kids are whispering away, asking me all kinds of questions and telling me all about themselves. (They’re my step-cousins, and it was the first time we’d ever met.) The boy informed me that the younger twins had a different dad than him and his sister. Their dad was in jail. For raping a teenage girl. And then he asked me what rape is.


cheebdragon's avatar

My kid is in the “why?” phase…..everyday is an uphill battle….today I had to explain why the beach is where it is…
But a few weeks ago I had to try and explain why the sun goes away at night. Oh the joys of being a parent.

Darwin's avatar

We had to explain death to our daughter when she was a toddler. In the space of one week our neighbor’s husband died of a heart attack, her great grandmother (who she said lived in the “doctor pillow house,” her name for the nursing home) died of being 97, a friend of mine from work died, our cat died, and her daddy had to go into the hospital for an angioplasty. On top of that, our car died and we had to foreclose on the guy that bought our first house.

Somehow, based on what I and others said, she decided they all went to God’s house to play cards. When the doctor came out to tell us how my husband had come through the procedure (he had some difficulties that necessitated the use of those electric shock paddles) she proceeded to tell him that “Daddy was going to go play cards, too.” Once I explained that she was saying that he was going to die, the doc gave orders that she be allowed to visit her dad in cardiac ICU so she could see that he was not dead.

Have you ever taken an active toddler into ICU? There are way too many interesting dials, tubes and cords in there!

We still say someone has gone to play cards instead of that they died.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Tacky. My little second cousin, after hearing my aunt, cousin and I talk about this or that being tacky, thought he had a good grasp on it and used it. But he just used it to mean he didn’t like it and it ended up not being a good use. Still trying to explain the difference between something being tacky and something not agreeing with you was… difficult.

cak's avatar

To my daughter when she was three…why daddy wasn’t living with us, anymore. That really sucked.

To my son, that sanitary pads are not big band-aids for his boo-boos.

deaddolly's avatar

Tampons. Enough said.

Snoopy's avatar

@dd Ugh. Sounds like it was similar to the conversation I was having last night!

cak's avatar

@snoopy…if you haven’t reached 5 yet, that’s when they figure out tampons make really good rocket launchers. (did I mention he’s a boy…they are always curious.)

Snoopy's avatar

@cak. I have one of each so I am sure it will be a mixed bag in the next few years!

Bri_L's avatar

Wow, everyone of these sounds so familiar.

Mine would be when I just finished showering and my naked 3 year old, fresh from her own bath, ran in the room as I was drying off. She asked how come I have a belly (the term for a penis that she learned from her 5 year old brother) when she has a butt (referring to her frontal region). I said you know Mommy can answer that in two shakes!

Snoopy's avatar

@Bri We tried using anatomically correct language and it just sounded stupid. So our words are “hoo-hoo” and “pee-pee”.

It’ll do for now!


Bri_L's avatar

@ where were you when I was searching?

cyndyh's avatar

Oh, I have some fun ones.

Recycled toilet paper is recycled paper that’s made into toilet paper. It’s not toilet paper that’s already been on someone’s ass.

Yes, people have “meat on their bones”, but that doesn’t mean that’s where the meat on your sandwich comes from.

When you smash strawberries with a hammer on the front porch it might look a little like blood, but it’s not blood. Stop trying to scare the other girls that way. You’re wasting good strawberries. Who gave you the hammer?

Bri_L's avatar

@ cyndyh – lurve for the delivery alone. and that last one had me rolling.

cyndyh's avatar

All true conversations I’ve had with one or the other of my kids. My then-fella actually gave my daughter a hammer when she was 6 just because “she asked for it” without asking what she was planning on hammering. Sheesh.

cyndyh's avatar

Ha, I wouldn’t come anywhere near blaming men, in general, for that one in particular. :^>

hearkat's avatar

The hardest was explaining alcoholism and the family court system to my then 5-year-old when he asked why he couldn’t go see Daddy.

Nathanael's avatar

when my dad gave me “the talk” he took me to Dairy Queen

His exact words were

“Pen** goes in vagi*a
Baby comes out
Are you gonna finish that?”

I was left to find the rest out on my own.

cheebdragon's avatar

when I was about 10 years old my little cousin (4–5 years old) asked me why her parents always fight, and why her dad doesn’t love her…...I explained that sometimes grownups just don’t get along very well and I told her that her daddy loves her, and I explained how maybe he just didn’t know how to show it, but I told her several times that he did love her. I actually think I did a pretty good job that day, considering my young age at the time and the seriousness of the question. But my aunt and uncle hate me now and I haven’t seen my cousins in like 6 years because they think I’m going to corupt their kids….sometimes I feel like calling them up and bitching them out. I have never and would never try and get my cousins to do anything that I have done.

autumn43's avatar

It sounds like you handled a difficult situation very well for a 10 year old! That was a wonderful explanation. And it also sounds like your aunt and uncle have some issues that have nothing to do with you. You are the better person for letting it be. You know who you are and they don’t – their loss.

Malcrony's avatar

The strangest thing I’ve had to explain to a toddler is why wonder woman had an invisible airplane if she could fly.

cheebdragon's avatar

Last week my son said, “Mommy, what does boo-yah mean?”

Bri_L's avatar

@cheebdragon – That is funny!

Darwin's avatar

So what does boo-yah mean?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Fuck Yea!

autumn43's avatar

@uberbatmanit does?! Yikes. Guess I won’t be saying that anymore then…

Malcrony's avatar

@autumn43 Lol Funny

but just in case it doesn’t mean Fuck yea!... it’s just kind of like it…

Boo-yah can be Hell Yeah, Oh Sweet Yeah!, anything Approving of what just happened or was said.

Terrible but funny Example :
Bob: “Sally just broke up with her boyfriend and is going to your house to ask you out”

You: “Boo-yah”

Dsg's avatar

@snoopy…I have to tell you that Snoopy is my all time fav. character. Now to you comment. I too had my boys ask what my pads were for. The first thing that came to mind was that mommy has a boo boo every month and those are my bandaids. I think it actually dumbfounded them….at least for now.

Dsg's avatar

@Snoopy…as kids we used to call ours a Bee bee (for a girls body part). My girlfriend calls her daughter’s a “cookie.” I see that becoming a serious problem when she’s older. I haven’t dared to talk with my girlfriend about it yet, but its definitely going to come up in conversation soon.

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