Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby created lots of fun and entertainment for generations when they interviewed children on their television shows in the years before reality TV. YouTube, which has live videos of everything that’s ever happened in the world including all TV shows, has an awesome collection of their Kids Say the Darndest Things moments. Teresa and I are fortunate to have our own personal collection of kids’ sayings through our younger friends who have small children.
The Snyder family in Columbia regularly makes us smile with their photos and anecdotes of their son’s comments. Soon-to-be four years old Finn cracks us up when he phones his MamaDaddy and Auntie T and talks for ten minutes about something very important. We know it’s important because he doesn’t pause to take a breath in those ten minutes, but we don’t know why… because we can’t understand a word he’s saying. It’s the thought that counts.
Out of the mouths of babes, as the saying goes, couldn’t be any truer. I had my own mouths of babes moments last week on my trip to Worsham Street in Texas when I stayed in the Huss House where their three sons are all under the age of six. Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby would be happy to have heard Oscar, the oldest, reel off his detailed strategy of my work day that he imagined for my first day in their home. His elaborate plan involved chopping up dead trees in their back woods with a pick-ax and chain saw, making a four-people sofa out of the wood we cut, selling the sofa, putting the pennies and nickels we made in his piggy bank, and then sending the money to Teresa and me in South Carolina when the piggy bank was full.
I felt he had a brilliant idea, but I questioned him about whether he thought his parents would give us permission to borrow their pick-ax and chain saw for the day’s work – at which point he whispered, “Miss Sheila, you and I can form a team and sneak off in the woods without telling anybody.” Perfect solution.
On the final day of my visit, we were all going to escape the intense Texas hundred plus degrees heat late in the afternoon by going for a swim in their pool. I had bought a new swim suit earlier in the summer and changed into it in the guest bathroom. When I walked into the bedroom to put my clothes away, three-year-old Dwight was sitting on my bed waiting for me.
He took one look at me in my flowery pink swim suit, covered his eyes with both hands, and flung himself backwards on the bed yelling No, No, No. I was alarmed and asked him what was wrong. He was rolling on the bed from side to side while he held both of his feet up in the air in his tiny hands. Clothes on, clothes on, he said, in obvious distress. Mystery solved. Dwight was afraid of what he saw in the swim suit.
Kids have two things going for them in their communication process before we adults filter their minds with years of instruction and layers of guilt: one is imagination and the other is honesty. I totally admire both qualities, but I’ve got, like, a thousand follow-up questions.
Until next time.