In my experience, roughly between the ages of three and seven, kids have delightfully little filter. Whatever is happening in their little brains comes immediately out of their mouths. It does not pass GO. It does not collect two hundred dollars. It is not subject to any Inside Out style pre-comment check that experience will later provide. Often this has awesome results. Don’t ever as a four year old a question that you don’t want an honest answer to. “How do these shorts look, son?” “They make you look like Sponge Bob, dad.”
When my wife and I were preparing for the birth of our second child we decided to take his older brother, who was four at the time, to a class they were having at the hospital for kids expecting a new sibling. There were about ten other parents in attendance with their own kids, all roughly the same age as my son. After a short introduction to the class, time came for us to go around the room and tell a little about ourselves. The mother and her son to our right told us where they were from and that they had Japanese heritage.
Here I will stop and give two pieces of relevant backstory. My little guy had just spent some time with grandma and grandpa. While at their house, he got to sit with grandpa and watch World War 2 programs on the History Channel. (Much to mommy’s chagrin). War being a difficult concept for a four year old, things just got boiled down to good guys and bad guys. Also around the same time, for some reason or another (and most likely by his father), he had been introduced to the semi-obscure 80’s song Turning Japanese, by the The Vapors. You may begin to see a dilemma taking shape.
While my oldest child has never been accused of being constantly aware of everything going on around him, in fact quite the opposite, he heard the word Japanese loud and clear. He slowly turned to us with a smile of recognition on his face, while my wife and I slowly turned to him with wide eyed expectation of the worst. It could go one of two ways. Either we were going to get a loud, “Hey dad, weren’t they the bad guys in World War 2?” Ooooorrrrr. We were going to be treated to an impromptu rendition of “Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.” Pick your poison. Instead, he pulled a head fake on us. He just sat there and smiled. The class proceeded. About ten minutes later, the teacher handed out pictures for the kids to color. My guy grabbed his crayons, got settled in, started to color,,,,,,,, and sing Turning Japanese. To which I responded, and I quote, “Badadaddipopipp aaaahhhhh ssshshshhhh, why don’t you use you red crayon and not sing.” No one else seemed to notice. Seven years later, I have no idea what was taught in that class, but I remember that my son knew the chorus of that song quite well.