By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 27, 2007 at 5:17 AM

I've always thought young kids should be talked to like people. Not exactly the same way as adults, but with a vocabulary that goes beyond "goo," "ga" and the occasional "uh-oh!"


A lot of adults underestimate the intelligence of children because young kids don't have strong communication skills. However, their thoughts and ideas are way more mature than their ability to relay them, so sometimes they feel frustrated by their folks' inability to acknowledge this.

When my sons were babies, during stroller walks I pointed out things like "soffit," "trench coat" and "Rhodesian Ridgeback" right along with the usual "kitty" and "airplane" words.  I admit this was partially out of boredom, but also because I like words and really do not believe there is such a thing as too much information. Sure, age appropriateness is important, and I wouldn't elaborate on sexual fetishes for my preschooler's bedtime story, but if he asks a reasonable question, I usually provide a reasonable answer.

In fact, at 4 and 5 years old, the boys ask so many questions that, like in my adult relationships, oodles of words bubble out of my mouth constantly - - so many that they almost need a butterfly net to catch them all. This is both good and bad.

For example, bathroom privacy poops out when you become a parent -- there is simply no such thing. So, most of the time I pee with two tiny peeps in the room, and lately, they've been asking questions like "Why is there blood in the toilet?" "Where's your penis?" and "If you don't pee or poop on your hands why do you have to wash them after you go?"

Occasionally, I might suggest they ask me the question again the next day, a tactic I learned from a book. It's a good one, because most of the time, they forget for a few days or weeks or months and you have more time to prepare an answer. However, since I'm just sitting there anyway, I can get pretty chatty in the potty.

Hence, they have a solid understanding of menstruation -- quite possibly a better one than my grandmother had as a married woman -- and they want to make sure others do too. Recently, the cashier at Pick 'n' Save got an earful from sweet little Levi when he said, "Just because blood comes out of your vagina doesn't mean you're going to die." Luckily, the cashier couldn't understand my lispy son, because she just smiled and said, "That's right, Sugar." (Then again, maybe she heard him loudly and clearly and I need to befriend this woman who shares my viewpoint on appropriate information for children.)

Meanwhile, my older son has a beautiful vocabulary that includes words like "baffled" and "gargantuan" (OK, I can't take credit for "baffled," he got that one from Shane and David on "The Upside Down Show.") And being open and honest is key when fielding his questions about his adoption. Like menstruation, this topic causes him to say the most intense things at the most unexpected times, like when his doctor walked in to the examining room, and the very first thing out of my son's mouth was, "Guess what? I have a mom who nobody knows!"

Ah, and then there was the "Circumcision 101" phase. It didn't take long from them to realize they looked different from daddy, and began to ask a lot of questions. I tried to simplify and yet speak formally about the subject, but they somehow still processed it in their own words. Sure as poop, one of my sons asked his uncle within minutes of seeing him for the first time in a year, "Is the tip of your penis cutted off?"

Maybe I should reconsider my approach.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.