As such, they devoted a lot of time to reading to me and making me recite the alphabet and count out loud.
The one place all of their teachings failed was political correctness.
Future Parents/Present Parents: It's over-stated but I'm not sure if people really take it seriously, your kids absorb EVERYTHING you say.
Case in Point:
My dad was reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to me. I stopped him mid-story, "Daddy, what's a dwarf?"
This was the early 90's--the Keebler Elf and Lucky Charms Leprechaun ran rampant on daytime television commercials & he used these social references as teaching tools. That wasn't so bad.
Where my dad fucked up is the day I saw a little person out in real life. When you're a kid, every little person dressed in regular clothes looks like this:
I realize that the last two of these pictures are a troll and the smurfs but I was seven, okay? I just assumed all little people were magical by association--why else would they be so small if not because they lived in trees and hid cereal from children all day?
Anyway, so baby Lauren is out and about with my family and I see a little person.
"Daddy, look!" I pointed at the poor fellow, "It's a dwarf!"
"No baby, that's a midget."
He didn't explain that midgets aren't magical so I just assumed midgets were in the dwarf family with the trolls and gnomes and leprechauns. He also didn't explain that midget was a mean word. I'm almost sure that little people prefer to be called dwarfs as opposed to midgets.
In my dad's defense, he's not from here and English is his second language. He started speaking English when he turned 17 and was stationed in the United States after joining the army. What I'm trying to get at is if someone told him that little people were called midgets in English, he probably would have believed them without questioning it.
So I went on believing that little people were magic.
Anytime I would see them at the grocery stores or going on walks, my five-year-old heart would pitter patter with the knowledge that our world was a magical place. Believing little people were straight out of the fairy tale books practically validated every fairy tale I had ever heard. One day after school, I was standing outside waiting for my mom to pick me up. I was standing with a group of girls from my class and a little person walked by the school yard. He was young, even kind of handsome, and wearing faded, torn jeans with a leather jacket. He totally nailed the 90's grunge fad.
I was so excited; I'd only ever seen little people at grown up places or when I was with my parents. But now, I was with my friends and I wanted them to share my enthusiasm.
I proudly pointed my right index finger in his direction, got my friends' attention and said, "Look guys, it's a midget!"
The man slowed down, he looked at me and said, "Yeah, I could call you a name, too," and then kept walking.
I was crushed. I didn't know exactly what he meant but I could tell he was mad at me. When my mom came and noticed I was sad, I relayed the entire situation. After reflecting, I added, "You know what, mommy? I think he was a goblin. That explains why he was so small and nasty."
And my mom told me, "No, sweet heart. You just hurt his feelings. First, you know better than to point. And second, midget is a mean word; they're called Little people. It's not your fault, but now that you know, don't use that word anymore." She also explained to me that just like some people are really tall, some people are also smaller than everyone else--but it doesn't make them magic.
Fortunately, this still didn't tarnish my belief in a magic world, I was a stubborn five year old.
Note: I added the picture of the treasure trolls as an after thought. Talking about trolls reminded me of how I preferred trolls to Barbies when I was a little girl. I was super strange until...still.