I have a five-year-old daughter. I’ll call her Neo. Her definition of a grown-up is someone who can eat candy for breakfast if they want. Based on this definition, she knows she is not a grown-up.
The other week we had an incident at practice where we discovered we were out of instant ice packs in the first aid kit. I couldn’t ref at the next practice because my husband is taking a class at night, but I decided to take Neo to buy some ice packs to replenish the kit and bring them to practice. Neo bounced up and down at the check-out line telling the clerk, “We’re buying ice packs for Mommy’s derby girls! Sometimes they get hurt, so she’s buying them ice packs! They’re her derby girls!”
Other than amusing the clerk, it made me think, my derby girls? Then it struck me that Neo’s other definition of grown-ups: They can tell kids what to do. I’ve told her in the past that referees make sure everyone follows the rules. As far as Neo is concerned, derby girls are big kids on skates being supervised by grown-ups in black and white shirts. It’s just a taller, faster version of pre-school.
Once we got to practice, I let Neo sit and watch the girls do some rule scenarios while I put the ice packs away. Seeing the disarray of our medical supplies, I got absorbed in chucking empty packages and expired medications, and repacking things more efficiently. Neo watched the players intently. My previous hypothesis on her views were confirmed. She crept up to me and whispered, “Mommy! One of the derby girls said a bad word!”
“What did she say?”
“She said STUPID! Are you going to put her in the box for a time-out?”
“No, she wasn’t calling another person stupid. She was calling a problem with a rule stupid.”
“Oh.” Neo wandered back to watch the skaters do drills, more impressed. Apparently, to a five-year-old, derby girls are bad ass because they can say a bad word without going to the box!