The only difference

Beans’ preschool teacher told me sometime last year that she liked to drive her teenage son and his friends around because if she was quiet enough they would forget she was in the front seat and they would talk openly among themselves. She wasn’t looking to gain any clandestine information – although I’m sure if she had learned he was planning a booze-laden sleepover at a friends house sans parents or somesuch she would have come up with a way to intervene appropriately. But, no … she just wanted to get some insight into her boy’s thought processes.

Brilliant, right? So simple and yet so smart, too.

Anyway, it was this advice that came to mind as I listened to a “conversation” between Beans and Tallulah a couple of days ago. (I say “conversation” because Tallulah is chatty, but not exactly at what I would consider the “conversational” stage. I get tingly when I think of all I might glean from her utterances.)

Beans turned to Tallulah and said: “Do you know what the difference is between boys and girls? Do you know?”

Tallulah shook her head and said: “Uh uh.”

Beans: “Do you want me to tell you? Do you want to know?”

Tallulah, hanging on his every word, nodded: “Ye-ah.”

(Me, developing a sudden unshakable interest in a fingernail, refusing to even look their way and certainly stifling the urge to ask him to just tell me already.)

Finally …

Beans said: “It’s the hair. Boys have short hair and girls have long hair.”

[Not the only difference, obviously, and not even always A difference, but whatevs. In his little world, that’s the way things work. For now.]

“Except for you,” he told his sister. “You’re a baby and you don’t have any hair yet. We just have to tell people you’re a girl because they can’t tell.”

Tallulah was nonplussed.

But me? I feel a bit more informed. And, OK, a little relieved. I feel fairly certain he’s noticed other differences already, but I guess I think it’s nice that we don’t have to underscore those differences and outline their hows and whys just yet.

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