Sometimes they come to me and say, "Mom, do you like this picture I just drew?" and I say, "It's beautiful!" when I really only spent a few seconds looking at it.
Sometimes they say, "Mom, is this outfit okay?" and I reply, "Yes, it is just fine." And then I often regret giving my approval once they are loaded in the car and I notice that the socks don't match and the shirt is too small. But then I think it is good for them to learn independence, and often independence=mismatched socks.
But the other day I had a reminder that I should try to tune in a little bit more.
I was at the dance studio to pick up Ava and Kiara, the twin daughters of our dear friends Brent and Katie. I was going to be chauffeuring all four girls to a rehearsal for the American Girl Fashion Show that they are going to be in to raise money for Seattle Children's Hospital.
Kiara had a bunch of papers in her hand that she said were pictures of Barbies and Fairies.
"Do you want to see them?" she asked me. I glanced at them for one second.
"How nice, Sweetheart!" I said. "Why don't you go get loaded in the car?"
I went in to give my final wave to Brent and Katie, and a few of the dancers were snickering and said to me, "Heather, did you look at the pictures that the girls have?"
"I saw them . . . "
"You need to go and LOOK at them," they said.
And so I went out to the car and asked Kiara if I could please see her pictures one more time.
And I found the picture that the girls must have been snickering about.
"Hmm. Sweetie, I'm going to take this one." And I went back into the studio with a crooked little smile and asked Brent to look at it.
"Yeah," he said, not wanting to pause, "I know they had some pictures that Aidan printed out for them . . . " (Aidan is our Studio Boy Genius. He is six and often helps us with our electronic issues; he is really good at satellite uplinks.)
"Brent, you need to LOOK at it," I said.
And so he did. And as it came into focus, this is what he saw:
"Wait . . . is that a cigarette? . . . . and she's pregnant? . . . . . is that beer?" Poor Brent was nearly hyperventalating.
It would seem that Barbie isn't always the role model that we would expect her to be . . .
When looking for it later, I discovered that this particular photo is actually called "Redneck Barbie" and our dear sweet Aidan must have found it in Google Images when he searched for Barbie.
Luckily, our kids are still so innocent that they didn't really notice that things weren't quite right. Except for Cora, who did note the cigarette when I confiscated the photo. But she didn't notice the black eye, or understand the implications of the three children who each look very different from the others.
(I also like how Barbie has Mac and Cheese in her basket, mixed in with cigarettes and a bottle of what is either whiskey or salad dressing. This is making me think twice about all the Mac and Cheese I feed my kids . . . what kind of mother am I?)
Brent promptly threw the picture away. And he didn't get it for me later when I texted him and told him I needed it for my blog. I think he was pretty shaken up and wanted to forget all about Redneck Barbie. I am sensitive to that. Not really.
So, another lesson learned: It is always a good idea to pay attention when your kids, and their friends, want to show you stuff. Especially while they are still interested in showing you things. And especially if it has anything to do with Barbie. She can't be trusted.