For better or worse, children manage to say the most delightful, funny, and sometimes inappropriate things no matter how young or old they are. As often, they are egged on by the adults around them.
While playing with a toy set of a village at ages three and four, my mother's daycare charges argued about the time in their make-believe land. Finally, one looked up at my mother and asked, "Is it today?"
My four-year-old niece, Abby, crawled up in my sister's lap after bonking her head on the coffee table. "Did you apologize to the table?" my sister asked. Incredulous, Abby replied, "No!" My sister asked, "Did the table apologize to you?" "No!" Abby exclaimed. My sister asked "Why not?" Abby knew. "Because it doesn't has a mouth!"
Through the years, my husband, Robert, has taken great delight in what can only be described as "How to make the children's teachers call my wife." Abram and Therese struggled with their 4th-grade math homework. I've always been math-illiterate, so my husband took the reins. The children later scampered off to bed, elated with their newfound understanding of what had presumably been a difficult concept. The following day I received a phone call from their teachers asking that we stick with the multiplication and division exercises and refrain from teaching the children Pythagorean Theorem.
In another dad-induced moment o' fun, my daughter's kindergarten teacher called to say, "Amelia's turn at Show-n-Tell was enlightening." The theme for that day was Things That Fly. Amelia told everyone what her father had told her: Birds haven't always known how to fly. It wasn't until planes were invented that birds looked up into the sky, saw the planes, and said to themselves, "We can do that!" And so they did.
Amelia was in second grade when I told her she could go with a friend to the friend's church. We aren't a religious family but I didn't think much of one visit. Later in the week, she and I were driving past a construction site where the workers were building the frame of a new home. Amelia commented, "They sure are doing a good job of tearing that house down."
"They're not tearing it down honey, they're building it," I told her. In the rearview mirror, I could see she was giving this information a great deal of thought. She asked softly, "People build houses?" "Yes," I answered. She still looked puzzled. I distinctly remember being eight-years-old and how unsettling it felt to learn that Washington DC and Washington State were not the same thing and were on opposite sides of the country. So I asked Amelia gently, "Who did you think built houses?" She said, "God." We drove a few miles further in silence. Finally she spoke when we were stopped in traffic, "Do people build cars, too?"
That was an interesting night at dinner.
As a military family, we'd moved 13 times in 17 years. Not long after arriving at this duty station, our son entered the hospital for surgery on his knee. He told us later that he'd awakened in the middle of the night and felt a little disoriented. He said he felt better when he was able to make out his CD player lying on the table next to him. "I'm a good military kid. I just thought 'Oh, there's my stuff. This must be my new home.'"
My husband has been the only father my two older children have known since they were just two and three-years-old. The depth of a child's love and devotion for someone who steps into the role of parent is, for better or worse, immeasurable. With that, I share a most ironic parenting experience:
My daughter was a sophomore in high school when she was sent to the principal's office for something she said she had not done and was very upset about being in trouble. My husband and I were called in for a conference. In light of her many and recent antics, my husband was sure she'd played some part in what had happened, and told her as much. While I sat with her and the principal, my husband went out into the hall to speak with her teacher. The principal was going over her records and said "Your dad's name is…" and spoke my ex-husband's name. My daughter, thoroughly disgusted with every adult present, exclaimed, "That's my biological's name. My DAD is the &%$# in the hall!"
My daughters have yet to let their normally articulate brother live down his assessment of a song he'd heard: "That sucks even bad."
Amelia dodged a mundane chat partner by typing, "Oh no! Little digital squares! You're breaking up. You're breaking up! Aahhrrrggh!" Click.
After Therese saw the movie, Weather Man, her review couldn't have been less enthusiastic. "It was boring, boring as crap. I'm just trying to learn how to smile again."
Please do share the verbal antics of the children in your life. From the mouths of babes.