Toby eyes the service dog skeptically. “Why is that dog in the store?” he asks. I try to explain quietly, since the dog’s owner didn’t look like the chatty type. “But why does THAT guy need him?” he manages as we wheel away. Heck if I know. The guy doesn't look disabled, and you can’t exactly ask people.
“Why are you so fat?” he asks someone. When I, shocked, try to explain why we don’t say that to people, he is confused. “But it’s not a bad thing…” he tells me.
“WE speak English,” he confides to our Asian waitress.
"Is this where ALL the old people sit?" he asks at the YMCA. I try to redirect him to a more thoughtful term, like grandmas and grandpas. “Wow, that’s a BIG grandma,” he immediately comments. Hoping she was also a deaf grandma, we just kept moving.
If I tell him certain topics are off limits, that makes it more of a challenge. “I am not going to say she is fat,” he tells me in a stage whisper, pointing at his victim. He chats up the very, very elderly woman at the medical supply store. “Are you…” he pauses, thinking. “Are you YOUNG?” Nailed it, Tobias.
“But WHY do Mexico people speak Spanish?”
“We’re getting a baby.” He tells a woman at Babies R Us. “But it’s not in my mom’s tummy, it’s in some other mom’s tummy.”
“That,” he says, pointing, “is a BAD man.” (this could be any race, he just picks them by their hats, or Halloween shirts)
In his defense, none of his questions are ever mean-spirited. And at home, I answer pretty much anything, and try to explain it in a way that I am willing to have him announce to a crowded restaurant.
Luckily, most people really have a lot of grace for kids. Before R2 got his eye prosthetic, kids used to ask me questions about his little eye all the time, and their parents would be horrified and I was fine answering them.
I like answering Toby’s questions. I like explaining things to him. It’s just becoming a little more complicated, because 4 year olds are SO politically incorrect. And so, so, SO loud. The more embarrassing the question, the louder it will be asked.
I think I need a manual.