Yesterday I picked the boys up from daycare and headed to my parents house. I told the boys, "We're going to Hoppa and Homma's house tonight. Lilly is there and Dad is going to meet us for dinner."
Now, this plan is not exactly unusual, so I was a little surprised when Sam got upset and refused to go inside. "Whatever, Sam. If you don't want to go inside than just play outside." So he stayed outside while Owen and I went in.
While we are inside I'm watching Sam from the window and it doesn't look like he is having a ton of fun. I mean, who can tell with kids, though. What looks to me like noodling aimlessly around the backyard is actually the dreamy outdoor exploring that makes a boy's childhood a rich and satisfying time. Or at least I think that's what someone said.
Anyway, I see him come up to the back door, but don't hear him come inside, so eventually I go check. He's just standing there, concernedly clutching his penis (as he is wont to do).
"What's up, Sam?"
"Are they gone yet?"
I'm puzzled. There are no strangers here, currently, and, as far as I can recall, Sam has not recently been forced to encounter strangers here.
"Dude. There are no strangers here. I don't even know what you're talking about."
"The STRANGERS. Are they GONE?"
"Sam. Really. There are no strangers here. It's just Homma and Emily. That's all. No strangers."
"So Dad's meeting is over?"
"Mom, you said Dad was having a meeting with strangers."
"No, I don't think I did."
At this point I getting the possible glimmer of illumination that comes after winding my way down a convoluted thought process with my good friend Sam.
"I said Dad was going to meet US here. Now come inside, and experience how stranger-free this house is."
What I said was, "Dad is going to meet us here," but Sam heard "Dad is having a meeting here. A meeting with a ton of STRANGERS."
Oh, Sam. I don't even know where to start.
But he's been doing this a lot recently. Where he slightly misunderstands something we say, but never in a good way, and always a lot more extreme.
The other night we were getting the kids to bed when I realized I had run out of books and the library had some waiting for me. Seeing as how the library was about to close, I asked Chris if I could just run out and pick the books up. He agreed so I ran out and got my books (also free basil! Did you know the Lee road library has a garden table where people donate extra stuff from their garden? I debated for a minute about whether this was intended for poor people but then decided that I am poor in terms of fresh basil).
Anyway, I get back in, like, eleven minutes, but all hell has broken loose. The boys are crying and Chris is yelling and the baby is screaming. And I thought, "See! This is why mom's shouldn't weave!" But then I realized that there is always yelling and crying in our house, it's just a little weird to walk into. Like being a lobster thrust into already boiling water, instead of taking an increasingly hotter bath until you pass out.
So I wade through the chaos and eventually make my way into Sam and Owen's room. Sam is weeping softly into his hands.
"Oh, buddy, what's the matter?"
"Daddy's going to put me in a diaper." Sob, sob.
"Really? He said that?" Which seems really weird because I have never heard Chris threaten anything even remotely like that and I cannot even imagine what in the hell could have happened here in eleven minutes to precipitate such a threat.
"Well, don't worry about it, Sam. Nobody is going to put you in a diaper. Let's just go to sleep."
When I run into Chris in the kitchen a few minutes later, I ask, eyebrows raised, "You told Sam you were going to put him in a diaper?"
Chris looks at me, confused. "Um. No."
We're still not sure where Sam got this idea. Our best guess is that when Sam and Owen were having their nightly fight about who gets to turn off the TV, and Chris said something along the lines of, "Sam! You're not a baby, so stop acting like one!," Sam heard, "I will put you in a diaper like a baby!"
I understand that life is confusing to four-year-olds. These little people are right on the cusp of grasping that there are subtleties and subtexts that exist in the language of grown-ups. Sam hears, "meeting" and can make the logical leap that meetings are for strangers. He hears that he is "acting like a baby" and, knowing what happens with babies, assumes he will be put in a diaper.
I just wish that his logical deductions weren't always negative.
Although, maybe that's a good thing. Because this way, life is always more pleasant than he expects.
If he heard, "We're going on a ride!" and thought, "Super! I'm getting a pony!" he would be pretty disappointed. Instead, he thinks, "That horse is going to eat me!" And when we just get in the regular old car, life is a great relief.