Children amaze me — they cut to the heart of social pressures they see in the world around them. They have no filter, and they fear no judgment. Some conversations I have with the 7-year-old girl I babysit are gut-wrenching. Although her name begins with ‘S,’ it isn’t Sage. Given her 7-year-old wisdom, though, it fits.
S: Do you have a boyfriend?
S: Why not?
Me: Because I don’t want one. I had one, but we broke up.
S: Why did you break up?
Me: It’s complicated.
S: Well, why don’t you try to get a new one?
Me: Because I don’t really want one right now. Sometimes, boys are the worst.
S: Yeah, I know, because sometimes mommy and daddy argue, and daddy yells and makes mommy cry.
S: Holding her short hair behind her head in a ponytail I would look better like this. If my hair was long enough for a ponytail, I mean.
Me: You think so? I think short hair looks cute on you.
S: Thanks. Pause. I wish I looked like you.
Me: What do you mean?
S: I wish I had light skin like you. This dark skin makes me look dumb. And I wish my hair was blonde like yours.
S: Do you want to be a singer?
Me: Not really. I was a singer for a little bit, but I stopped.
S: What did you sing?
Me: Opera stuff, mostly. Usually in Italian.
S: Sing one for me. I comply. S listens with wide eyes. That was good. I want to grow up to be a singer, but I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t really like myself. But we’ll see.