Have you noticed that kids often say the strangest things? It wouldn’t be so bad, if not for the fact that my children carry my last name, thus making it undeniable that I bear some of the responsibility for what pops out of their mouths. Sometimes they repeat things we would rather that they had not heard, and sometimes they blurt out things that we swear they didn’t hear in our household.
When my eldest daughter, Emily, was four years old, she wanted Daddy to play with her Barbie and playhouse. With my keen imagination, I lay on my back and made my doll dance back and forth while her doll did all the talking. My only lines were to say, “Okay,” and “Oh!” That covered any possible situation.
Her doll approached mine and said, “Let’s do the dishes.”
After giving serious thought to the proposition, my Barbie did a little jig and said, “Okay.” My part was done.
Her Barbie pranced over to the kitchen, picked up a little Barbie dish, dropped it, and shouted, “Oh darn!” Only she didn’t say darn. It might take some brainpower, but you can probably figure out what the word was.
This gave me a small glimpse into my wife’s recent experiences in the kitchen. I stroked my chin and thought, I’ll bet mommy has recently broken a dish. And she probably wasn’t too happy about it.
Not every thing that blurts out of their little mouths is an imitation of actual home experiences. I have another daughter whose imagination blossomed when she hit that magic age of four. Her name is Sophia. I came home from work one day to find her crawling around the kitchen while apparently barking at the ceiling. After observing this strange behavior for a few minutes, I asked, “Sophia, what are you doing?”
She looked at me and said in a serious voice, “I’m a dog who got hit by a train, and now his head is turned around backwards.”
I stroked my chin and thought, I don’t think she learned that from her mother. At least I hope not. Sophia and her younger sister are constantly pretending to be various characters. Pretending isn’t enough. They must tell you what character’s role they are playing, and they’ll repeat this notification until an acknowledgment is received. They are programmed to broadcast their ID indefinitely until they receive the proper response. They also have built in error checking and rebroadcast their identity every five minutes to insure that information is not lost or forgotten.
Sophia’s character is often related to the latest show our family is watching. We watched Sherlock Holmes, and, lo and behold, a younger version of the bugger appeared in our midst. He looked strangely like Sophia, but the child insisted on being addressed by her… I mean his, proper name. For several weeks, we heard, “I’m Sherlock Holmes.” He demanded to be recognized so often that I was beginning to think the crime sleuth was insecure with his identity. This was during the holiday season and my wife was giving a lesson on Christmas. She told the nativity story as she said, “…Mary brought forth her firstborn Son and laid Him in a manger.”
When my wife paused to take a breath, Sophia seized the moment she had been waiting for by blurting out, “Yeah, and I’m Sherlock Holmes.”
Somehow, the Christmas story didn’t have the same appeal when Sherlock was mixed into the dialog.
When my youngest, Abigail, was two, she took up the make believe world as well. The real Abigail was absent for some time as she pretended to be various characters. Sometimes she forgot the name of her character, so she would ask, “Who are me?”
I then had to call out names until I identified the correct character, and then she repeated it back until one or both parents gave an acknowledgment of her identity.
My middle daughter had her moments as well. When she was five, we had recently moved and were looking for a church. We visited a nearby church, and as the service wrapped up, a long-winded man was asked to pray. He prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Most of his prayer was about himself, and apparently he felt the need to keep asking God to bless him. It was ten minutes into his petition for blessings that Natalie reached her tolerance level. She looked toward me and shouted, “Is he ever going to shut up?”
Her words echoed through the church and people began to stir. Several people were shaking with laughter, and the man took her blunt comment as a sign from God to end his prayer.
Lucy, who is now seventeen, holds the record for the worst comment ever blurted by my five children. She was four. (Do you see a pattern here?) Church ended and we chatted as we worked our way out the door. As I held Lucy, a woman walked up and leaned close to her and said, “Aren’t you just the prettiest thing?”
Lucy made the most repulsive expression as she pressed her nose down with her hand. She slowly, and dramatically turned to me and said, “Her breath smells like poopy diapers!”
We stood in an awkward silence and I wondered, What can I say? Good luck with that? Want a baby wipe? I thought about the tic-tacs in my pocket, then dismissed the thought. It probably wouldn’t have been received as a friendly gesture.
The good news is that three of my daughters are old enough to speak in public without me wishing I had a broadcast kill switch. The bad news is, I have a five-year-old who loves to blurt things out. What thoughtful words will erupt from her little mouth before I can hand her off to her mother and pretend to be a passive observer? Not even Sherlock Holmes can guess what words will escape from the mouths of my children. When they speak their minds, perhaps I’ll have my tic-tacs ready and stick to the only words that come to mind, “Good luck with that.”