A few weeks ago, I was admiring some of the recent art of my 8-year-old daughter (art being one of her passions). Some time in the last year, her art ability crossed an imaginary line where her drawings are better than what I am able to produce (don't worry, I do bring this back to blogging before the end of the post).
I was telling her that the art was beautiful, and expressing what a relief it is to critique her art nowadays vs. when she was much smaller. I told the story from when she was four or so of looking at a drawing she brought home from school with pride and my saying "nice bunny". Of course, every parent knows what happened next - she responded "dad, that's a fire engine". And my saying, "oh, yea, I see, there's the ladder" and her saying "dad, those are the wheels", and, well, you get the idea.
So about a week after I told her this story, she was telling me about something that happened that day at school. As sometimes happens to her, she got excited and that made her story kind of disjointed and hard to parse. At the end of it, I said something like "that's great". She looked at me for a second in the eye and said "nice bunny".
The more I think about it, the more proud I am of her. She was telling me, in two words, that she was self-aware enough to know that she had done a poor job telling her story. She was also telling me that she realized that I was patronizing her and she didn't like it. I am a little sad that she might be this cynical at such a young age, but really I am happy to move our relationship to a more grown-up level.
Today, "nice bunny" has become our family in-joke, and we all use it now (ex: my wife comes home with a new haircut, that I of course totally miss. She says "do you like my haircut" and I of course say "it looks great". She now responds "nice bunny")
Last time I hosted Carnival of the Vanities, about 5 of the submitted posts made absolutely no sense to me, no matter how I hard I read them, but I dutifully included them with some kind of neutral introduction. Next time I will be tempted just to say "nice bunny", but I am not sure anyone would know what the hell I was talking about.