A really fun way to spend that precious half hour or so between bathtime and story time with your four year old is to look at pictures of the human anatomy online.
Tonight Lily was in the tub and she said, "Mama, what does my body look like on the inside?"
I love getting asked a question like that, because that is one I can actually answer. That is not like some of Lily's regular questions, so often asked at times when answers don't just flow off the tongue (mainly when I've just poured my first cup of joe at 6 am and the coffeemate hasn't even hit it yet...)
For example, here are some typical 4 year old questions I've heard:
"What color is everything?" (Lily)
"Why are sharks alive?" (Devin, my nephew, at an aquarium in the Outer Banks) or, "What's up with the sharks?" (Lily, at the same aquarium)
"How did you find my skin?" (Devin, asking my sister about how she was able to create and carry him/feed him/grow him in utero for 9 months)
"How did I say 'elephant' when I was a baby?" (Lily)
But give me a straightforward question about the human body, and I can draw upon my (limited) memory of 8th grade bio, 9th grade reproduction, and some of what I picked up on the street along the way. Also, I can call up Dr. Google Image Searcher to help explain stuff too. There is so much cool shit on the internet! I don't know how the hell we learned anything when we were kids. I guess we just had to read them things called books.
So anyway, we spent some time looking at some pretty detailed pictures, and we even came across photos from the Bodies Exhibition at South Street Seaport. Lily thought they were totally awesome. My kid kicks ass. I mean, at her age I was so goddamned frightened of everything and this is a child who likes to watch medical shows. (Because we don't have cable, an evening treat of tv for Lily usually will consist of some telethon on PBS, a cable access cooking show, or footage of someone having surgery. So lucky.)
Anyway, it was cool to sit with her on my lap, explain the different body parts and what they do, and know that she is actually absorbing EVERYTHING. It's corny, but it's so true that we are our children's first teachers. Sometimes it just blows me away how much she learns every day and how much there still is to teach her. And her desire to learn doesn't wane; in fact, she can't get enough. As we were climbing into bed to read stories, I asked her what she thought of the body pictures. "Cool," she said, nodding. "Mom, now I wanna know, what does the inside of a pig's body look like?"