Category Archives: Things kids say
Not sure how morguefile.com gets these pictures of me.
I do not have a piece written today because:
- I was gravely misunderstood twice in one day. I could have recovered from once.
- A friend from out of town was coming and I could not remember the name of anything I know how to cook.
- My three youngest children went outside, stole water without asking, dug up dirt without asking, and made a lot of mud. They poured it all over the slide and went down it repeatedly. Two of them covered themselves from head to toe, skin, shorts, t-shirts. The third, in school clothes, kept telling me that she didn’t even get to do the “funnest” things the other kids did because she was trying so hard to take care of her school clothes. That was supposed to make me feel sorry for her instead of being mad at her. I had no answer for that with language appropriate for a nine year old so I couldn’t say much.
- The people misunderstanding me are fragile so I can’t even wade in and offer up my most excellent defenses. Which is too bad because I am really ready with some excellent points, and not being able to say them is making it hard to think.
A small offering from the week’s conversations . . .
Girl one felt compelled to read the ten commandments to Girl two.
What’s adultery? said Girl two.
It’s like when you’re married to one person and then you get married to another person.
Both Girl two and I found this interesting.
Or, continued Girl one, probably if you’re engaged to someone and you marry someone else.
Girl two’s eyes got wide. She began to whisper furiously.
That means I’m going to have to commit adultery, she said.
What do you mean? said Girl one.
I’m already engaged to John.
No you’re not, said Girl one.
Yes, I am. I don’t want to be, but I am. At winter fun day he asked me to marry him.
Did you say yes?
I said no. He said pretty please. I said no. He said he’d do anything for me. I said no. But I’m going to commit adultery because I’m not marrying him. I’m marrying someone else.
saw this happening out the window and got the camera
This was the goal.
Boy two has a bruise on his head. During our work day he began taking the split logs in his hand as they came off the splitter and tossing them behind him onto the wagon without looking. He stopped after one log flew straight up and came straight back down on his head.
Girl one is reading a novel to Girl two as we drive back and forth to school. It’s a mystery with illustrations of art in parks. I tuned in to catch this.
Girl one: It’s crazy, but sometimes in really old art there are sculptures of naked people.
Girl two groans loudly in protest.
Girl one: I know. It sounds weird, but it’s the way they were learning about the human body. They didn’t know very much so they made sculptures of it so they could learn about it.
Girl two resigned herself to the senselessness of our ancestors with an exhausted, okay.
Boy one recently completed a submission for an essay contest. The potential prize money is big. Aided by the whole optimism disorder, he decided to give it a try. I was quiet about the possibilities of winning. For a few months my secret service, reverse psychology skills have been frequently required. Due to stealth constraints about my actual interest in him completing the project, the number of times I could say, “how do you not see your current state of not finished as an emergency!” was limited. The essay was due at 11:59 on a Friday night. Around 11:50, his father asked him where he was supposed to submit the project. He wasn’t sure. Turns out there was a form to fill out. The fact that the project was submitted at precisely 11:59 is something he’s immensely proud of. He sees it as a kind of good luck charm.
Boy two announced that he is kicking Boy one out of the solemn brotherhood. He says he can no longer tolerate someone so obsessed with hygiene. Boy two does not have this problem. Following a thoroughness inquiry from this interested mother after a recent shower, he explained that he had indeed washed everything from the top of his head down to about six inches below his knee.
But why would you stop there? I asked. That means you didn’t even wash your feet.
Who would ever wash their feet, he wanted to know. All the soap from your whole body goes there.
There was a knock on my bedroom door recently. Most knockers wait for my invitation then nudge a few inches through the open door to ask their question. This time the knocker closed the door behind them, strode across the room to the other side, and turned to look at me.
I’m almost in tears about everything. Do you know what’s wrong with me?
compliments of morguefile.com
Because we are all of us April fools most days of the year…
Girl two was in the bathtub yelling madly on the weekend.
On principle, I never interrupt when I hear this call. But I was starting to feel agitated waiting for him to respond. I told myself she had just dropped something or least it was a small injury.
My husband does not hurry, even when a drowning or gushing flesh wound seem likely
At last I heard him entering the bathroom to answer the call of distress.
What was it? I wanted to know when he returned. Is she okay?
She wanted to know if there were electric eels in Canada.
I drove in the driveway to see three children huddled around a tree, obviously covering something up as a result of my entry. They cast glances in my direction and huddled more tightly around the tree. I couldn’t think of any tree related crimes requiring immediate attention so I put the car in the garage and went inside. Half an hour later, they were knocking on my door triumphant.
They had a surprise for me. They could microwave it if I’d like but they wanted me to see it before it went any further.
A mug was held out with a half an inch of clear liquid.
We got it ourselves!
It’s a surprise!
They had found a nail, pounded it into a tree and wiggled it, while catching drips in plastic cup. They had strained bits of tree bark out with limited success.
I took a tiny sip, proclaimed my delight and suggested more cups.
No way, they said. We all had some. The rest is for you.
Every bit of it.
It’s our surprise, they said.
So I have a mug of sap and tree bark in the kitchen. I can’t bear to throw it out but neither do I wish to drink it.
Buster eating this year’s Christmas tree two weeks ago. He has it down to a trunk with little six inch nubs now.
Boy one came in from the barn Friday night to ask for help. Buster had gotten into one of the stalls in the barn. When Boy one tried to shoo him out, Buster went the other direction and tried to jump the divider into the next stall.
I arrived to find Buster oddly tipped on his front legs, his back hooves not quite touching the ground and the weight of his back end held up by the two-by four running underneath him tight up against the his haunches. Slaps and pokes were useless. Boy one tried a screw driver to take down the rail. I tried to shove a bale of straw up to where Buster could put his back feet on it and finish the ill planned leap, but he just couldn’t do it.
We solved it with Boy talking to Buster while I sawed through the rail, wondering if he’d be able to walk properly after all that hanging around in the air while we tried to figure things out. The board finally gave way. Buster got his feet back and went to find his mother.
In my experience, boys find it important to share these kinds of things with their mother.
Boy two found me alone recently.
I licked the tractor again, he said.
It’s -20°C, I said.
I know, he said. I lost a taste bud and my tongue hurts. I don’t know why I do it, but sometimes I just have to.
He often serves on the altar at our church. After a service a few weeks ago he caught me.
I have this idea, he said. I think they should have the ALT OLYMPICS, like altar server, get it?
I pictured earnest children evaluated by adults with checklists for attention to detail, surprised at Boy two’s enthusiasm. Was he beginning to value the importance of being careful despite the tedious nature of details?
For the opening ceremonies, he said, everyone comes out in the robes from their church. Then for the competitions, everyone does the fifty yard dash but they have to hold candles while they run. For the hurdles, they have to jump over pews instead. I haven’t figured out all the events yet. Maybe they could throw an incense boat or something for shot put, I don’t know.
Obviously, we are headed for great things.
Boy one cannot begin his work until he has had a proper amount of time to talk about it. Saturday he was inspired (while reclining) towards a future business endeavor.
Listen to this, he said. In University, I’m going to get some other guys and we’ll start a company. Man Maids. We’ll clean for people, watch their kids, whatever. I bet we’ll have so much business. They’ll hire us because the name is cool and because we’ll look so muscular.
On a recent family visit, my niece helped me make dinner. I was pleased to have time away from the maddening crowd to make pizza together. I set my niece to chopping pepperoni. We were cooking for 11, so it was a bit of a task for eight year old hands. Meanwhile, I made the dough, grated the cheese, and got together the other toppings.
“Ok,” I said. “Time to put everything together.”
“I think I better go wash my hands before I help again,” she said. “The dog got very excited and licked all my fingers after I finished cutting the pepperoni.”
“Good idea,” I said.
She left to wash her hands.
“Unless,” I tossed over my shoulder, “we want to make it our secret ingredient. What if everyone thought this was the best pizza ever and then it turns out that our secret ingredient was dog slobber?”
My niece laughed because she knew I was joking. She disappeared to wash her hands for a few minutes, also because she knew I was joking.
Fifteen minutes later, pizzas in the oven, table set, and doing up the dishes, my niece had a question.
“When can we tell them?” she wanted to know.
“Tell them what?” I said.
“About the secret ingredient,” she said.
“There is no secret ingredient. You washed your hands, remember?” I said.
“No, I didn’t,” she said.
“You didn’t?” I said.
“No,” she said happy and oblivious to my horror. “So when do I get to tell them?”
I quizzed her carefully but she wasn’t joking. I made her swear a vow of eternal silence on the matter of dog slobber (mostly, but I didn’t say so, on account of Boy one’s fragile emotional capacities in matters surrounding his food). Niece was profoundly disappointed but complied. Nothing else profound in the tale here today except the lesson that you make your own bed before you lie in it, and sometimes innocent looking little blond eight year old’s find mild wickedness compelling and delightful.
At an anonymous and unclarified point in time (assume ancient history out of generosity) I was combing Girl two’s hair. It was the morning of a busy day. The kind of day with thirty things clambering for completion on the list and only room for twenty if absolutely nothing went wrong. Girl one was already waiting in the car – after a none too gentle chiding for the explosions of contraband I emptied from her backpack.
Girl two’s skin is fair. Her hair is fair. Even in the morning shadows I saw the black speck dart through her hair. My fingers moved with purpose while my brain began a calming meditation about the silly ways that dirt can seem alive sometimes.
Don’t move, I commanded.
Ow, yelped Girl two in surprise as I tore at some strands of hair in hot pursuit.
It can’t be helped. Don’t move, I said again.
Overnight guests were arriving in less than ten hours.
It was not a piece of dirt. It was not lice.
It was a flea. I think.
I think this because our house growing up had more than one flea invasion. I remember the worst time sitting and watching the carpet hop like popcorn. Our only carpet here is on the stairs. I inspected. No popcorn. Ditto for furniture.
What do fleas do? asked Girl two.
They make you itchy, I said.
I was itchy as soon as I got in bed last night, said Girl two.
It’s true, I realized. She’s been complaining of itches every night lately. How could this be happening today?
I grabbed a comb and a cat and inspected. No fleas. I took the kids to school.
Boy two looked at girl two, somber. “I promise I won’t tell anyone at school that you have fleas,’ he said.
“She does not have fleas! There was one flea. And it’s dead so she doesn’t have it anymore.”
I’m not sure that he believed me.
I got home and left a message for my husband to buy updated animal flea protection just in case. I checked the internet for signs and symptoms then resumed my search. Bedding clear. Mattresses clear. I found the wool blanket I added to Girl two’s bed last week with a small measure of relief. It would be a better reason to be itching than the unspeakable.
Meanwhile I’m itching. My head. My back. Even my fingers are itching. Wool blankets, winter dryness, these things we can manage. A flea invasion shortly before the guest arrival on the other hand . . .
I calm myself between mantras that it wasn’t actually a flea or that the flea market was a one man show.
About a week ago around bedtime, Boy two became desperate for me to call his friend’s mother. It wasn’t clear what I should say, only that I should call her. Oh and sign the paper. The paper has the boy’s phone number on it. Now do you get it? he wanted to know.
Not exactly, I said.
We’re doing a bake sale to raise money to ship boxes to kids for Christmas. Someone else will fill them. You’re signing that you’re ok with the bake sale. Mrs. V says you have to sign.
The next night at bedtime he again became desperate for me to pick up a phone.
But what am I calling to say? I said exasperated.
About the bake sale, he said a little exasperated himself.
But I don’t know anything about it, except you’re doing it to raise money for the Christmas box shipping fees.
We’re not doing it for that any more. We changed our minds. We’re raising money for The Angel Tree. And we want to do it at the general store. Now can you call her?
I agreed to call the next night on condition he answer important questions like when was the bake sale?
He wasn’t sure.
Who was baking?
Only them. Mrs. V. said they had to take care of things themselves.
What were they making?
He wasn’t sure but could I buy chocolate chips?
When were they baking?
Just call his mom and then you’ll know all the answers.
So the other mom is organizing the bake sale?
No mom, I already told you. Mrs. V says we have to do everything ourselves.
The General Store was more flexible than I was. We stopped by so Boy two could ask permission to do the bake sale on their porch for an unspecified time on an unspecified day. No problem, they said. Angel Tree is a great cause. As soon as you make a sign, we’ll post it and start telling people about it.
Boy two called his friend to work things out. They settled on the friend might or might not be coming over the next day to bake. I broke down and called the other mom. We managed to confirm a date and time. She’s donating some pies. I’m donating some muffins and letting the boys use our kitchen.
Boy two spent last night happily working on a sign. If you’re curious, the bake sale is Saturday afternoon. In addition to pies and muffins, Boy two is doing some bread loaves in the bread machine. The boys are making cookies together and Boy two is cutting up packages of carrot sticks. They’re going in plastic bags labeled, “Halloween Recovery Packages.”
In advance of curious customers, we have also upgraded the explanation of The Angel Tree fund from, “I have no idea but they might be at the mall,” to “an organization that gives Christmas gifts to kids whose parents are in prison.”
Boy one: Kale’s mom is just different.
Me: Different how?
Boy one: Well, she’s like really kind and would do anything for one of her kids
Me: Hmm . . .
Boy one: I mean it’s great now but what is Kale going to do when he grows up and no one does stuff for him?
Me unspoken: Not sure . . .kind of stuck back where Kale’s mom is kind, likes her kids and is NOT LIKE ANYONE YOU KNOW.
Girl one on donning her first pair of glasses:
Wow. The world is just so . . . perky. Everything is really perky now . . . oh my gosh, I just realized, I am really going to love my reflection wearing these. I mean I always liked my reflection, but now it is going to be so clear it is going to look even better!
And lastly, Boy one again. After days and days of illness he propped himself up on his elbow to earnestly share this reflection. One might imagine it had been said with a kind of mortified tone . . . like he was confessing something he wasn’t proud of, but no, he was all in, kind of delighted with himself for figuring out how to sum up his clearly logical approach to living.
You know mom, he said. Really, my life philosophy is – I’m right until you prove me wrong . . . that’s it. You have to prove me wrong, or I’m right.
You don’t say.
Hawk’s View: The personally crafted paradise of Boy two and Girl two. So named, I am told, because when you are in it (4 or 5 feet off the ground) you see what a hawk sees.
More quirky things from the kids, or a few things the fly on the wall observed lately:
Intense voices followed by absolute silent and a lot of clicking. Then a voice would yell that the time was up, followed by more intensity. Some cheering, some shouting. What in heaven’s name, I wanted to know, were they doing? Boy one held up a calculator.
I am so good at this, you would not believe, he said. It’s a game. You add one as fast as you can and try to see how high you can get before the time is up.
We do it all the time, said Boy two. It’s great.
I have not been tempted to try the game.
Girl one returned from walking grandma’s dog with the following sentiment:
Walking Jasmine is so nice. I can sing the whole time and work on my songs. The bad part is that she can’t tell me how good it is, but the really great thing is that she can never say she hates it.
And on nice quirky, one of Girl two’s bedtime prayers:
I pray for Syria . . .and what’s that other country?
Sudan. And I pray for Mom’s friend . . . what’s her name again?
Her name is Stephanie, but I don’t really know her.
Yeah. I pray for Stephanie . . . but mostly I’m going to call her your friend because I can’t remember her name . . . Please help the people with their big rain and help all the people in the world that have bad bathrooms to get good ones . . . I think that’s a good prayer, do you think that’s a good prayer? I think everyone should have good bathrooms.
I find mercy in the rhythms of everyday life. My heart is heavy with news of a Dutch priest and psychotherapist, who chose to stay in danger and solidarity with the people of Syria whom he has been serving for decades, killed three days short of his 76th birthday. That was ten days ago. This week, a bombing at a Catholic school in Damascus, Syria, killed a nine year old and injured 45. My heart worries and aches for the people of Ukraine. Rwanda is observing remembrance, of the awful genocide twenty years ago, and remarkable steps toward healing and reconciliation since. Holy week marches on.
Girl two has become fascinated with St. Rose of Lima. She knows little about her, the name, “Rose,” is the focus of adoration.
“What’s Lima?” she wanted to know.
I told her it was a city in Peru, the same place a close friend of ours is from.
Girl two’s eyes lit up. “Does that mean,” she said breathless, “that St. Rose had brown skin too?”
“I think it does. Does that make you happy?” I ask.
“Yes,” said Girl two. “Brown skin is so beautiful. And it sparkles. Especially in the sun. You have to see it in the sun. I love the sparkles so much.”
Fear despises difference. Love sees the sparkles.
Spring has sprung the coils in the children’s brains. Boy two has been on a rampage of neglected duties. A few days ago he came to me with great sincerity and measured tone.
“I have a question,” he said. “I have brushed the horse and fed the chickens. I’ve collected the eggs and put away my school things. I’ve emptied the ash and practiced my piano. Is there anything else I need to do, or I have I done enough to be iddal now.” (think “little,” with no “l”)
I blink while my brain works to solve the puzzle of “iddal.”
“Is it possible that you read the word, ‘I. D. L. E.’ in a book and you are trying to pronounce it?” I ask. “Because you say the word with a long I. Idle.”
“Iddal. Idle. Whatever. So have I done to be idle now?”
Mother Teresa, who surely saw more than the average share of the world’s pain, said that “love begins at home.” We are all of us insufficient to alleviate the needs of so vast a world. It is a crisis of immensity with a place to start. The radical promise of Easter.
In barren fields, things unexpected grow. The world disintegrates and love is made new again. Hope, peace, joy, rise rediscovered, and renewed.
I will be taking a few days off from the blog, back on Tuesday, next week. In eager expectation and gratitude, may we walk toward the hope that is Easter. And may we be iddal long enough to hear the ballads of miracle and mystery that bid us also to rise up.