2014.04.23 The wit and witticism of Carolin Ballinger

I was chatting with Maddie the other day and asked if she had read the latest Caroline-ism on Facebook. 

“The one about taking her clothes off?” she asked.

“No, the one about chocolate,” I said. “Where’d you read about taking her clothes off? I didn’t see that on Facebook.”

“I didn’t read it on Facebook, I read it on the Google doc,” she said.

“Oh! I forgot about that! How do I get to it?”

And Maddie led me to a Google Drive document that Rosie created and somehow has made available to the rest of us. It’s called “Caroline Says” and Rosie has steadily been adding to it as Caroline says funny things or as Rosie remembers things Caroline said in the past.

Caroline: Ellie can't wait to drink chocolate milk. 

Rosie: Maybe. There are some people who don't like chocolate. 

Caroline (pause) What's their name?

“Caroline Says” is a treasure trove of moments that make you smile or chuckle or shake your head in wonder at the development of a pre-schooler and the workings of her mind.

Caroline is still adjusting to the reality of a new baby sister, even nearly five months since her appearance. She is leaps and bounds better at accepting Ellie and genuinely loves and cares about her. But she does have her moments—and because Rosie and Taylor are so accepting of her feelings and acknowledge them, Caroline says what she feels and articulates the anguish of sharing her parents with a younger sibling.

As Ellie was fussy from teething…Caroline: It's okay to cry. It's okay to be mad. I be mad sometimes. (then turns to Rosie in frustration) Ahhh!! She's trying to pull my shirt!

She is guileless in all communications. “Guileless” is one of those words you read in books, but never use in real life. Except in the case of Caroline, “guileless” is the word that perfectly describes her. “Innocent and without deception.” Merriam-Webster supplies all these words—genuine, honest, innocent, naïve, natural, real, simple, sincere, true, unaffected, unpretending, unpretentious—that, while excellent synonyms for Caroline, don’t fully convey all the nuances of “guileless.”

Of course, she is also three and given to flights of fancy and creating a different reality. Some could accuse her of lying in particular situations, but I don’t think she has the capacity for doing so. There is no reason to—she has amazing parents who acknowledge and accept what she says; there is no reason to hide her feelings. Her parents don’t spank her or treat her harshly; there is no reason to try to avoid punishment.

Here are a few “Caroline Says” entries that illustrate her guilelessness.

From late March—(About an ant on her tea party blanket) Caroline: It's not alive anymore. I took its ear off. Both of them.

From February—Caroline: "Uh oh, I have an accident. An accident for Ellie. My teeth on her hair.  Oops, I have another accident! I sit on her."

From mid-March—We have a box of books in our bathroom closet meant for Goodwill. Caroline found them and goes to get more every day. She came back from a trip wearing only a shirt. Caroline: I peed. Rosie: Where? Caroline: In the closet. I cleaned it with a towel. And wiped my pants with toilet paper….I peed on a Sesame Street movie. 

There’s another word to describe Caroline. It’s not coming to me, but I think it’s illustrated in these last Caroline-isms. 

Late March—Upon hearing neighbor dog bark, Caroline: It's spring, Louie! It's a perfect day for barking!! (Repeated that several times, then a few minutes later) Stop making noise, Louie.

Late March—Rosie (looking at video of photos from last year): Aww, my baby. Why did you get so big? Caroline: I've just been eating. 

Early April—At a minor league baseball game, Caro is ecstatic to see the mascots. While she's posing for photos with them, someone asks if she wants to be a mascot when she grows up. Caroline: No, I'm going to be a doctor!

Mid February—Caroline: I want a treat. Taylor: How about a digestive biscuit? Caroline: Ew, no want that. Taylor: It's covered in chocol... Caroline: (suddenly dead serious) I want that.