One of LP’s regular companion’s is Doggy Chicken Burrito (and yes, you do need to say the whole name).
Doggy Chicken Burrito is interested in bugs that sting, especially bees.
Doggy Chicken Burrito knows that he needs protection to investigate bees and not get hurt.
Doggy Chicken Burrito wearing protective gear looks like this:
Big people almost universally comment about Doggy Chicken Burrito by saying, “What happened to your doggie?” or “What’s wrong with his eyes?” or “Oh now! Your doggie has an owie!” or “Why can’t your doggie see?” LP usually attempts to explain, although her explanation is a little hard to follow if you don’t already know who Doggy Chicken Burrito is and about his interests in bees.
Last night, LP asked me, “Why does everyone think there’s something wrong with Doggy Chicken Burrito? Why don’t they know he can see through the protection?”
A hard question to answer.
Sure, one answer is that when you use your wonderful imagination, not everyone can see what something means unless you draw them into your world. But another answer is we live in a culture of fear that leads people to unconsciously make negative assumptions and while it is frustrating to explain and explain, you are doing a good thing — challenging those assumptions — when you do.
Would I make that same mistake if I didn’t know Doggy Chicken Burrito’s back story? Very likely. As much as I try to embrace free range parenting (see Free Range Kids for an abundance more on that topic), I am as saturated in the culture of fear as anyone.
While it is certainly easy to tell myself to stop overthinking this, I do believe it is meaningful that EVERY time someone has engaged LP about Doggy Chicken Burrito’s eye covering, it has been with the assumption that something is wrong. I wish even one person engaged her with curiosity and without assumption — “Tell me about your doggie’s eyes” would be one way to do it.
And such a good reminder to me about asking kids open-ended questions, especially when it comes to the place where our adult reality and their wonderful imaginations meet. What we “see” may not be what is real.