Here’s what I expect of typical four year-old children: that they chew with their mouths closed when eating donuts and maybe don’t shit their pants too much. That’s about it on my childhood development chart because anyone who’s had or spend any length of time with a four year-old knows these creatures are basically puppies with speaking ability and less impulse control. I’ve had two four-year olds living in my house in the past, and here’s what I know about the fourth year of childhood development: It lasts six years.
Four year-olds cannot be expected to do much other than cuddle and torment and spill stuff, so when I heard about a four-year old boy being thrown out of a donut shop for asking a woman if she was pregnant, I rolled my eyes so hard I’m typing this with assistance. As for the boy’s error, when I was pregnant a donut shop was my second home, so logical conclusions and all that.*
When my son was 6 weeks old, I made a trip to the grocery store without him. The check-out clerk – noting my squishy midsection – asked “when my baby was due.” (In fairness, all my sections are squishy.) Instead of telling her he was currently out-of-utero and probably screaming himself blue in the face over my absence this very moment, I did what anyone in my position would do: I replied “In a few months.” I was so embarrassed for her at the error that I felt I had to make her comfortable despite her being the one who was wrong. This is because at that point in my life I still operated under the long-held conditioning that a woman should be “polite.” Upon hearing I was indeed “pregnant” the clerk then put her hand on my stomach and declared the fat rolls contained within the confines of my velour maternity leisure suit to be a future daughter and that “she was never wrong.”
This clerk was not four years-old, so I cut her some slack, and just simply never went back to that store, because the thought of having to concoct some tragic story about why I wasn’t getting bigger was so stressful that I was willing to pay $2 more a pound for butter across town.
It’s hard to tell if a woman is pregnant, and sometimes, maybe all the times, you just shouldn’t say anything. My own personal rule is that unless there is a large, suspicious puddle of fluid on the floor and a woman is screaming something about “the head,” or “crowning,” or “dear God, someone please call Jason!” then I just keep my eyes upward and talk about the weather.
Four year-old children are exempt from this rule because they are new here on this planet and like any life-form new to earth, they really just want to visit donut shops for a chocolate glazed and some cold milk.
* I once ordered two Boston creme donuts at a donut shop drive-thru when I was pregnant with my daughter. I drove away and soon discovered – TO MY HORROR – that neither of said donuts contained any cream at all. This was before cellular telephone technology became commonplace, so I drove around until I found a payphone with a phone book, and then I called the donut shop and blasted them through heaving tears, “NO CREAM! NO CREAM!”** and then I hung up and cried in a parking lot for several minutes before returning to work.
** This is absolutely true. You DO NOT mess with pregnant women and their donuts.