Having kids is sometimes like living with "carnies" - every day is different and you never know what you're going to get when you wake up in the morning. The good days are really good and the bad days really suck. I'm not one of those parents who will tell everyone I know that having a child is the best thing I've ever done with my life. It is very fulfilling and I love the Wee One in indescribable ways, but having a kid is a crazy roller coaster ride that might actually go off the tracks at any point. If nothing else, it gives you a tremendous amount of retrospective respect for your own parents.
One of the best things about having a child, however, is the funny and crazy shit they do. They constantly challenge your perceptions about what you think they should be/care about/do/enjoy/get scared by, and they change so quickly that you are always on your toes. The Wee One is now 2 years and 3 months old (27 months for all of you crazy parents who insist on doing everything in months. After a year it's time to get over it people) and I am constantly amazed by what she understands or says. Last week on the way home in the care she started yelling "I want Lady Gaga!", and my wife and I looked at each other and said "who?" I think the Wee One has been reading Isis' blog.
But I digress.
Recently I was in a Dollar Store to pick up some trinkets for a kid's party and saw that they had a display of ShamWOWs, the highly absorbent towels. I'm not much of one for infomertials, but I had some use for such a towel to dry dishes, so I picked one up by the register. I brought the thing home and as soon as the Wee One found it she thought it was the Best Thing Ever! She's drawn to the damn thing like a moth to a light and anytime she sees it she grabs it and either wants to play with it (apparently it makes a hilarious tail if held behind the back), wants to clean something with it or decides it is her new blanket. Of course, I'm imagining her going to sleep with it and waking up all dehydrated, but that wouldn't probably happen, right? Right?
But she doesn't care that it's a $1 piece of fabric with unusual absorbing properties - it's soft, flexible and brightly colored. What more does a kid need? I can tell her "Honey, that's just a towel, can you put it back on the stove", and she'll say "No daddy, it's a tail!" I guess the point of this random and rambling anecdote, other than the fact that my tolerance for writing about science is being devoured by grants, is that we often make assumptions about what is desirable to others without taking into account how they see things. If you pay attention, sometimes you find out that there can be many interpretations of what you see as a single thing. And sometimes a dish towel is a tail if it makes a kid squeal with laughter.