Friday, July 17th, 2009
Toilet paper: Everyday moments are teaching moments
Opening the curtains this morning, I saw a neighbor’s house decorated with toilet paper. A teenage boy lives at the home. The public display was pathetic as far as TP’ing a house goes. It looks the young vandals used a single roll.
I quickly beckoned my 5-year-old daughter to the window.
“Look out the window. The toilet paper fairy came last night!”
“I don’t believe you.”
“No, really. See for yourself. Right here at the window.”
[Some coaxing later, she's standing at the window.]
“See! I told you. You know the boy that lives there? I wonder what he put under his pillow to get the toilet paper fairy to visit.”
“I do not believe it is toilet paper.”
“Okay, get dressed. Let’s go investigate.”
[She gets dressed for the day and slips on shoes.]
[On our doorstep.]
“What do you think it is then? Look on the roof. There’s a toilet paper roll with toilet paper still on it.”
“I think it’s plastic.”
[We walk across the street and inspect the nearest bush. She touches the damp toilet paper – a fog still blankets our street. There's no denying this is toilet paper.]
“What do you say now? It’s proof of the toilet paper fairy.”
“I think [the family] wanted it there. We should ask them.”
“That’s a good idea.”
I was impressed with her inherent skepticism and desire to investigate to understand the situation. She knew from the outset that my explanation was a joke. It’s important that I don’t automatically give her answers to every situation. Instead she should seek out evidence and form her own conclusions and be able to critically analyze the claims of others.
I admit this TP incident isn’t the greatest example of the above, but it’s a start.
We walked back inside and thought nothing of more of toilet paper until dinner time. When the subject came up again, we discussed our favored theories to explain the situation:
Mom: Space monkeys ravaged our banana bush and blasted off in their spaceship, but forgot to close their back door. Toilet paper fell out as a result.
I pointed out that we do not have a banana bush, and that bananas grow on trees. But space monkeys? Everyone knows they’re real.
Daughter: A hole was created in a passing airplane and the toilet paper fell out of the restroom. I asked how the hole was created and she said, “When the plane crashed.” I attempted to explain that her sequence of events was out of order, but she was having none of it.
Son: Grunt. [He's still not talking yet]
Me: “The boy that lives at the home tried to trick the TP fairy last night by placing a TP tube under his pillow. The fairy knows the family has plenty of toilet paper, so the fairy vengefully defaced the front yard knowing that the mother would blame her son and make him clean it up as a lesson.
As it turns out, the family seems to be on vacation. The toilet paper remained most of the day until someone came by to tend to the house.
This evening my daughter placed a toilet paper tube under her pillow. This was my response:
I hate to say it, but I suspect she’ll respond by wanting to provoke the toilet paper fairy further.