Of Kids and Candor
It seems that every day is children’s day in this country. In the main, we do pretty well by the little darlings. But in Japan they take it a step further by setting aside May 5 as a national holiday to celebrate children.
For decades Art Linkletter, followed by Bill Cosby, drew huge television audiences with Kids Say the Darndest Things, and it isn’t surprising. We count on them to give us a fresh perspective on life.
Here’s another sampling of their views on various subjects.
After I took our eight-year-old granddaughter Sasha and her cousin Riley shopping in New Canaan—buying them each a pair of pink horsey socks and two books for camp with a manicure in between—Sasha gushed gratefully: “You are so nice, D-D. You buy us things with your own money!”
Birds and Bees
One of our editors told me that her young son (nameless or she’d be dead meat) came to her with his first question about reproduction. She tried to deflect it to her husband, only to be told that he’d rather speak to her since she knew so much more about sex than his father did.
After young Jonathan and I had leafed through the book How Babies Are Made (Jack being in New York when he wanted an explanation), I asked him if he had any questions. “Yes,” he said. “Want to play Monopoly?”
Meanwhile, our five-year-old daughter was across the street watching Kathy McKnight burp newborn baby Sarah. “My mother used to do that to me,” said Audrey. “I’m sure she did,” Kathy agreed. “But that’s not my real mother over there,” continued Audrey, who we had adopted as an infant. “I kinda came with the house.”
The Gregorys’ six-year-old son Gunnar, a kid with bright red hair and an unfiltered mouth, had been taught that it’s rude to say someone is fat. So walking down Greenwich Avenue with him, his mother Kim cringed when she saw a very large woman coming toward them. But as they passed side by side, Gunnar restrained himself. All he said was: “Biiig paaants!”
At dinner one night our seven-year-old interrupted the conversation by answering a question not directed to her. “Audrey,” said Jack, “how can you voice an opinion on something you know nothing about?” Beaming with enthusiasm, she replied: “I might be right!”
One January Ava Karaskiewicz’s son Paul came home from kindergarten where they had talked a lot about Martin Luther King, and he refused to go to bed that night. “Oh, Mommy, I don’t want to go to sleep,” he kept repeating tearfully. “He had a dream and he died!”
After being asked repeatedly to get ready for bed, Katie Hornady Magee’s four-year-old was still not in her pajamas. “Caroline,” Katie pleaded, “what do I have to do to get you to put on your pajamas?” “Well,” answered the little girl, “you could try G-damn it. That works!”
Our ten-year-old grandson Duncan Klotz walked into the study to find his father typing up a bill to send a client for one of his sculptures. The printer for the computer wasn’t working so Drew had unearthed the old Underwood. Duncan took one look and yelled for his brother: “Ollie, Ollie, come here! You won’t believe it. It doesn’t even have a delete button!”
Upon observing that his father had black hair, while he himself, his mother, sister and even the cat had red hair, seven-year-old Cole Sembrot asked: “If we’re called redheads, is Daddy a black-head?”
After a wild month when a lot of Grace Notes were sick and I had to hire extra babysitters in order to do an overload of trouping, little Audrey commented: “You know, Mom, if you sing too much, that little thing hanging down in your throat will choke you to death!”
When the Alders’ five-year-old granddaughter was asked to introduce herself to the Reverend Robert Taylor of St. Paul’s Church in Riverside, the little girl dutifully went over to the minister and said: “Hello, Lord and Taylor. I’m Liza!”
One Eastertime we were discussing the extra jobs the kids were doing to earn money for their mite boxes. “I have the toughest job of all,” said five-year-old Audrey, then puzzled a moment and added: “Well, like flushing the toilets.”
Three years later, while I was driving Audrey and Sarah McKnight to yet another rehearsal for the Christmas pageant at church, Audrey commented: “You know, I’m sort of sick of Christmas.” Said Sarah, “I’m not sick of Christmas.” “Yeah, but you’re only three,” Audrey told her, “and I’ve gone through it eight times!”
In nursery school at Country Day during a discussion about the celebration of Passover, Phoebe Huth raised her hand. “We do Passover,” she announced. The teacher, who had known the family for years, was taken by surprise. But Phoebe explained: “When Abby’s clothes get too small for her, she passes them over to me; and when they get too small for me, I pass them over to Brecky.”
That’s kids. You gotta love ’em. And you’ve gotta write down these gems for posterity.
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