Sunday, November 28, 2004

How to explain DNA to a three-year-old?

Her: Is your hair brown or black?
Me: My hair's brown.
Her: Why your hair brown?

I don't remember what I said. In retrospect, a good answer might have been, "my Mommy and Daddy gave it to me." I've tried to point out to her before that she and I have the same eyes (though hers draw infinitely more compliments than mine), but how exactly we "come from" our parents is still over her head.

Her: Jesus made your hair brown?

This is a new one on me. She must have picked this up in Sunday school or some of the other church things she attends. I've seen the crafts that she comes home with, but I haven't thought much about what she's been taught. Lacking an answer in the time it takes her attention to waver, I reply in a way to confirm that I heard her.

Me: Jesus made my hair brown?
Her: Jesus made you and me and Mommy
Me: Jesus made our family?
Her: Jesus made me special.
Me: You're very special, dear.
Her: Jesus made my hair...

She doesn't know how to describe her hair, and I don't know how to describe her origin. We've talked a lot about bringing her a sibling "in Mommy's tummy." She's seen pregnant women, and she knows that's where babies come from, but not how they get there.

I wonder how she really understands this stuff. It's simple for her to repeat that Jesus made her, but I don't know how much she understands what she's saying. We can talk about Mommy's tummy till we're blue in the face, but what does that mean to her?

It's getting close to Christmas, and it will be time to talk about Santa. I'm anxious about that, about being a reliable and honest voice for her, but that's just peanuts compared to explaining that other prominent Christmas figure.
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