Thursday, 4 September 2014

Kids say the darnest things

Every parent I know has had that incredibly embarrassing moment when their child utters words that kids aren’t supposed to say, especially in the company of others! You know, the most private gossip that you and your other half were laughing maniacally about while driving in the car somewhere? Yes, that or some other private info that nobody else should know about. (If this isn’t a good enough warning to not gossip in front of your kids, then as you were!).

I am reminded of a very old TV series when I think about this. ‘Kids say the darndest thing’ was hosted by a veteran stand-up-performer, William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. or famously known as Bill Cosby from The Cosby Show. If you haven’t heard of this show, you can check it out on YouTube.

The setup for the show includes interview with kids where their innocent responses are recorded for the masses to view. It’s nothing short of unadulterated cuteness when you see a kid grappling to answer questions that even adults have a hard time answering. Furthermore, their answers were all so assuredly answered within their innocent outlook on life. Brilliant, simple and hilarious.

Anyway, my husband and I have had our share of embarrassing moments derived from our girls saying the darndest thing.

My eight-year-old, for example, is a chatterbox and she has been that as soon as she turned two. Come to think of it, all my kids are born with the gift of the gab and sometimes I need to get a timeout myself from their never ending stories!

Having a child who could speak A LOT was fun at the beginning. I still remember the look on my friend's 12 year old daughter when she rushed over to inform me that my child said "disgusting", a word she thought was too big for a two-year-old. It was a proud moment for me but my pride went spiralling down after that for were some things she said later on in life that made me want to bury my head in the sand.

For instance when my cousin came over to introduce his wife, my little champion who was only five then told her that she had a face that looked like the moon. When she asked why, my daughter innocently told her because it had many spots like the craters on the moon. My husband nearly choked on the food he was chewing and all I could afford to say was "who wants more chicken?" loudly, hoping somehow it would magically make whatever my outspoken child said, be forgotten!

Or the time when she offended a mother by asking whether her daughter was a girl or a boy, when another mother demanded for an apology because my daughter had stated the obvious by letting her daughter know that she was a little overweight and many more similar instances.

She has never ceased to awe me with her ability to put me in awkward positions but I have never reprimanded her for it. It is hard to because if I would have forced her to apologise, she would ask me why is she being punished for being honest. Being tactful was not something she could comprehend at that young age, so we decided to brave whatever trouble she innocently got us into.

However, her most recent mischief landed her in the counselling room at her school. She had apparently tried to tackle a taboo topic. A chapter that we adults know so well but find it hard to talk about. Can you guess?


She had taken it upon herself to educate her peers about sex.

I was called in by the school principal, who explained to me briefly what had happened and how one particular parent wasn't happy about it.

She assured me that it wasn't a big issue but wanted me to be aware about it. She even agreed with me that it was a topic children her age (8 years old) should be introduced to. But not everyone shared her wisdom. The discipline teacher, the one who intercepted my daughter had rather different views. To him this was a matter that MUST be discussed behind closed doors and definitely not something children should be allowed to discuss.

It’s all still so vivid in my memory banks, when I had to approach this discipline teacher on these concerns of his.

As he walked in clutching some pieces of paper, he daren’t look at me. His gaze was fixed to the floor like a nail in a coffin. He seemed like he was momentarily frozen, unable to look in any other direction but the floor. He responded only to the floor and avoided my many attempts to make eye contact. I could see he was flushed with embarrassment as we spoke about what was written on that paper he was holding. It was apparent he was very eager to leave the room and it was a good thing the principal dismissed him.

I couldn't hold it in anymore and burst out laughing while asking the principle, "What's wrong with him?". She told me the discipline teacher is a very shy person and found this all so very shocking and found it hard to deal with the matter.

I was relieved when I finally got to see the piece of note she had written on. It was a flowchart explaining sex from a child's point of view. It was a very innocent explanation which I believe she had gathered from my conversation with them when answering the age old question of "where do babies come from" and how did I know my husband was the man I wanted to marry.

There was nothing to it if you ask me. I am rather happy that she knows a little bit about the birds and the bees.

Damage control

I had a little chat with her and told her that sex was a private matter and how some people may not appreciate it being discussed openly. Her reply was, "..But mom, my friends were the one who kept asking me to tell them when I told that I knew what sex was!"

"So you had to have sex three times?", she asked so innocently, wide eyes locked into my gaze.

"You cannot put a number to sex" I told her and asked her how she came up with that number. "Because you have three children!" she responded.

There you have it my friends, my own episode of Kids Say The Darndest Things. So next time you are chatting about something not meant for children, be very careful and speak in codes or something! They watch, they observe and then share whatever that is in their mind without calculating its effect. It's not in their nature to speak safely because they are born to speak freely without any hesitation and you cannot blame them for it.

When in pain, they express it through their emotions by crying. When angry, some scream and some completely shut down. When they see something funny, they laugh out loud regardless whether they are in a library, at a worship place or some other place where silence is required.

Sometimes, asking children to "behave" or to follow a certain code or standard that was set by society can be challenging, especially when dealing with babies and toddlers. Reasoning is not something they are able to grasp so don't bother trying to make them behave, for it does not work. They learn from example, so set a good example and pray they would pick up from it!

So next time someone comes up to you, furious because your kids said something, just tell them “ Kids say the darndest things, don’t they? Then, enjoy sipping your coffee.

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  1. These are great stories and it sounds like you handled all of the circumstances brilliantly! :-)