Ever wonder how they get the mashed potatoes inside of French fries? It’s a good question; at least, I thought so when I was maybe six years old. My parents rewarded my insightfulness by laughing at me. You’ve heard that there’s no such thing as a stupid question? Well, that evidently has its limits.
Of course, I’m a parent now and it gives me an entirely different perspective on things. For years, my wife and I kept a journal of our children’s more memorable comments. At the age of two, my son proudly announced that his penis was the size of a dinosaur tail. Upon further inspection, he added, ” I could wrap it around your neck.” About four years later, when my daughter was around two, she thought a crowded restaurant breakfast table, with the waitress standing right there taking orders, was the perfect time and place to ask a very good friend of mine if he had a penis. That friend is now a parent as well. I hope he reads this so he gets a good idea of what to expect in the years to come.
I was reminded of these events somewhat recently when I was listening to an episode of This American Life, a weekly broadcast on National Public Radio. Each show focuses on a different theme, and this one happened to be about kids: what they think, what they do, what they say. During one segment, children were asked what the Tooth Fairy does with the teeth she collects. The responses were intriguing. “She builds things,” one child said. The rest of the exchange went like this:
Q. “What does she build?”
A. “Things. “Maybe a house or a trophy.”
Q. “Why wouldn’t she build her house out of bricks like other people?”
A. “Because no one has brick teeth.”
Kids say the darndest things, and they have a unique, often remarkable, often hilarious way of looking at the world. Last summer, I took my family to the Spiediefest. A Spiedie, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a delicacy unique to a particular region in Upstate New York. The original Spiedie was made from lamb. You can also find them in beef, pork, and chicken. Chunks of meat are marinated, grilled and served on Italian bread. The Spiediefest honors this incredible food with an event that’s part balloon rally, part craft fair, part festival and part concert. There may be other parts as well. I’m getting off topic here.
As I said, my family attended Spiediefest last summer. As we made our way in, I noticed a little boy, maybe three years old, enjoying the sights and sounds from atop his father’s shoulders. He was excited by everything around him. He said, “what’s that?” pointing in one direction and, “what’s that?” pointing in another and, “what’s that?” pointing straight ahead. His father answered every question as patiently and reasonably as he could. This went on for quite a while until the youngster finally asked, in a much more serious tone, “what the heck are we doing here?”
We can learn a lot from our children because they’re not afraid to say what’s on their mind. What would you do if you suddenly spied a flock of turkeys in your backyard? I was confronted with that very thing several years ago and my daughter was ready and willing to spring into action.
“Get me a scarf,” she said, staring excitedly out the window.
“What for?” I asked.
“I want to catch a turkey!”
“How are you going to catch a turkey with a scarf?”
“You’re right,” she said. “Get me a net. No, wait! Get me a hammer!”
The turkeys very wisely moved on.