This morning Clara climbed up on the couch and snuggled next to me while I watched the Today Show and nursed Sammy. The camera panned over to Jennifer Hudson right before a commercial, and the singer waved to the camera with a happy hello. Clara smiled, waved back and said “Good morning!”
After a second, she turned to me with furrowed eyebrows and asked, “Mom? Can she hear me?”
There are all these Wizard of Oz moments as a parent, when you have to decide whether to pull back the magic curtain a little bit further and reveal a truth about the real world, or let them keep imagining a more exciting existence. These moments are a teeter-totter of emotions for me: excited to see her mind exploring the limits of reality, sad because I know what disappointment lies ahead, hesitant to reveal too much too soon or too little too late. When they ask these questions, when they finger the folds of the curtain and look to you with curious eyes, what do you do? How do you know which conversations to have when?
This morning it’s an innocent question about the limits of a television screen. But what about tomorrow? Or next year? Or ten years from now, when her friends and the world around us are whispering and shouting messages that I can’t begin to sort through and file away for her?
If parenthood doesn’t send you to your knees in prayer, I don’t know what will, I’ll tell you what.
For today, for now, I told her the truth. No, Jennifer Hudson didn’t hear you. That’s not how TV works. She nodded, kissed her brother’s head, then slid off the couch and asked me to pour her a bowl of cheerios.
And so it goes.