"What's 'Dirt', Mama?"

Here’s the thing about Billboards and kids: they can spot them from a mile off and they notice every little nuanced thing. I was cruising around with Zoe & Ella this weekend when they noticed the (awesome) DIRT billboard.

Ella, “What’s ‘Dirt’, Mama?”

How does one explain gossip to a 5 year old? My quick thought process here: Oh my god! I could skip right over this and they’ll never pick up an US Weekly or visit Perez in their whole lives! This is a chance for me to make them better people than me… But, seriously, what kind of naive, insular, beat down children will they be if they don’t even know what gossip is?! Ok, so, how can I frame this in a way that they’ll be able to understand…

Me: “OK, let’s say Cinderella broke up with Prince Charming and started dating Superman. The whole story of how the break-up happened, that’s called ‘gossip’ and the term ‘dirt’ is slang for gossip.”

Nice one, right? I thought so. This is where my kids make me proud (and potentially an example of where I missed the opportunity for an important parenting lesson)…

Ella: “Cinderella wouldn’t date Superman. She’d date Belle.”

Zoe: (getting into it) “And then, Belle would date Sleeping Beauty.”

Ella: “And Sleeping Beauty would date Arielle.”

Me: “And who would Prince Charming date?”

Zoe: “Superman.”

Ella: “Wonder Woman.”

The story has yet to surface at pre-school storytime. When it does, that investment in “diversity” will certainly pay off for them!

So I told this story to Monica this morning over coffee and the New York Times. She loved it.

And then told me this story about gossip — which is, apparently, the explanation she’s been saving up. Here’s how some guy’s mom explained gossip to him:

“She grabbed a feather pillow off the bed and asked her son, ‘What will happen if I rip open this pillow?’

The Son: ‘The feather’s will go flying everywhere and it will be a big mess.’

The Mom: ‘Exactly. That’s gossip. Once it’s out, you can’t put it back. It goes flying everywhere and it creates a big mess that’s impossible to clean up.”

Apparently, the guy learned a valuable life lesson and hasn’t gossiped ever in his entire life about anything or anyone.

Whereas, my children are making up crazy, twisted love triangles involving the Disney princesses and superheroes. Hmmm.

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