The other day, Sophie was chatting about riding different animals, and she thought it might be exciting to ride an elephant, so I got out my photo-album from a 1996 trip to Thailand to show her when Mommy rode an elephant. She was so excited that, every night for the past 3 nights, her bedtime story request has been for the “When mommy rode an elephant book.”
Sophie has started asking questions about the other photos, though, from my trip to Thailand 15 years ago. Sophie likes seeing some of the Buddha statues, and likes seeing palaces. Waterfalls and canals and street-scenes and monks are all fine, to her, too. But: “Why are those people lying down?” Umm, because they’re smoking opium, which makes people sleepy. “What are these things?” Well, honey, those are six-foot-tall, brightly-painted, wooden penises. It was a fertility shrine. It was amusing to me, at age 21. “Who is this?” That’s mommy’s ex-boyfriend. And the story of that relationship is even more painful to explain than opium-smokers or fertility-shrines.
I am opposed to censorship, but I think maybe I should take the opium-smoking photo out of my Thai photo-album. But if I do that, then where do I stop? Do I have to go through all my photo albums, to make sure they’re all rated PG, and, even more than that, that every story is one I want to re-tell?
For now, at least, Sophie is pretty single-mindedly focussed on the elephants. We have a few years to go, I hope, before I have to talk to her about drugs or dating or other details from my past and her future. I hope.