Broccoli forest

My son is just 2. I have no desire to fix his assumption that broccoli florets are tasty trees.

Joanne Ciccarello – Staff

"Mama! Mama!" My 2-year-old yells in his most excited, I-just-discovered-something-huge voice.

My husband and I are engaged in a discussion about the presidential primaries. I am trying to make an emphatic point about sexism in American politics.

We are eating a delicious hot curry with steamed rice at our dinner table. My son is sitting in a highchair nibbling on his food and trying to constantly interject his worldview into our conversation.

"Mama! Mama!" He tries again.

"Look, a tree!" He yells. I turn to find him holding up a piece of broccoli for us to see.

I laugh. "Oh honey," I begin to protest, "That is bro…" I stop myself. My voice trails off.

As my son becomes a full-fledged, creative, speaking, thinking, learning toddler, I find myself struggling not to turn into the worst kind of teacher – the kind who overcorrects.

I have had to learn to resist my overwhelming adult need to jump in and say, "No, that is not right," in the guise of promoting knowledge.

I have had to reevaluate my knee-jerk reactions to his wonderfully fresh and sometimes stunningly original take on things around him. And unless I think his topsy-turvey assumption puts him in the way of harm, I have no desire to fix it.

Instead, I want to encourage my son's colorful sense of the world, in which stuffed animals attend story times, made-up words have real meanings, flies are fascinating creatures, and red balloons share secrets. I don't care if he thinks M is W. He is just 2.

Back at our dinner table, I study the face of my child who is eagerly waiting for confirmation. He is smiling. His cheeks are a little flushed. He is clearly excited.

Instead of taking the opportunity to teach him a new vegetable name, I exclaim "Wow, look!" I point at his plate. "You have many trees in your rice!"

He laughs, pleased.

"So, how many trees can you eat?" I ask him, caving in to another overwhelming parenting desire I have: establishing healthy eating habits.

He playfully puts one after another into his mouth. He is delighted by the possibility of plucking the little trees that grow in his rice and eating them right off his plate.

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