goofy-looking boy peering over his glasses

“If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.”
—Charles M. Schulz

Slips of the Young

Somebody’s Gotta Let Al Gore Know
I was driving along, listening to a discussion of global warming on the radio, when one of the presenters said, “The weather varies...” From the back seat my six-year-old son suddenly cried out, in wonderment, “There are weather fairies?”

Driven to Drink
Bobby, my five-year-old, asked whether alcohol could actually kill anyone. A teachable moment, I thought, and I found myself prattling on about the dangers of alcohol, especially the dangers of drinking and driving. Suddenly Bobby interrupted and said in a worried voice, “Daddy has drinked and drived.”  “What was he drinking?”  I asked. In hushed tones, Bobby answered, “Gatorade.”

Sticks to Your Ribs
My five-year-old son complained when I mistakenly bought chunky peanut butter, proclaiming, “Mom, this peanut butter still has the bones!”
—Karyn in Wisconsin

A Bad Spell
It was Christmastime, and I was in third grade. I cut out some letters and made a holiday word I had seen, “NOEL.” I showed it to my teacher and said, “Look, Noel!” Only I mispronounced the word, so it rhymed with “mole.” She corrected my pronunciation. I returned to my seat and removed the “L”. When I showed her my artwork again, she asked why I had changed it. My reply: “You said no ‘L.’”

Opposites Attract
For several years I taught ESL in Korea, where most of my students were in their early elementary school years. We had a test on basic vocabulary, using pair of opposites, such as tall/short, hot/cold, good/bad, and easy/hard. Pictures hinting at the correct answer were next to the blanks to be filled in. For instance, a picture of a quiz with “D+” on it and the incomplete sentence “The test is ___” should have indicated to the student the word “hard,” with the full sentence of course being, “The test is hard.” For one student, though, the picture of the tall girl and the short boy did not give enough information, so he guessed at the answers: “She is easy. He is hard.”

Ankle Biter
Our daughter, Pip, spoke clearly very early. One day when she was about 18 months old I heard “Ow! Ow! Ow!” coming from the living room. I looked round the door and asked her what was wrong. “My foot hurts.” When I asked why it hurt, she replied, “I biting it.”

Kiss and Tell
My kindergartner was disgusted: a girl in his class liked him. She followed him everywhere and talked to him nonstop. Then one day he returned from school distraught. Kaitlyn had kissed him! “Where did she kiss you?” I asked, thinking, Forehead? Cheek? Lips? My son answered in a dramatic, horrified whisper: “In the library!” 

The Big Ten
As a little girl I was always in trouble with the nuns, and my many sins were starting to sound repetitious, even to my ears. So one day in the third grade, I decided to pick a new sin. The following Saturday I knelt in the confessional, asked the priest for a blessing, and then confessed to a sin I didn’t understand but figured I must have committed at some point—adultery.

Why Johnny Can’t Read
My six-year-old was getting his eyes tested. The nurse asked him to read the third line of the eye chart, but he hesitated. “Just read it!” I urged, but he only came out with, “Sjiiiii…” “Jack,” I said, getting a little exasperated, “we don’t have all day!” He finally looked up at me and said, hopefully, “Sijik?” It was then I realized that, instead of reading the letters one by one, Jack was trying his best to read the entire word: “S J K.”

By the Numbers
My first grader’s car placed third out of nearly fifty cars in his Cub Scout Pack’s Pinewood Derby. That afternoon he bragged to a friend, “My car won first place—after two other cars!”

Schoolboy Crush
A month after the start of school, I asked my kindergartner, Tommy, if there were any cute girls in his class. “I’m not going to tell you!” he said hotly. “Well, how about Molly?” I asked. “Nope.” “How about Katie?” “No way.” I went through all the names I could remember but he denied each one. When I stopped guessing, Tommy piped up, “You didn’t ask about Emma.” “Ohhh!” I said. “Well, what about Emma?” Tommy, this time more fiercely: “I’m not going to tell you!”

I’ve Got Your Number
Three-year-old Andy was in the back seat of the car giving six-year-old John math problems. “What’s five and five?” “Ten.” “Yes! What’s six and six?” “Twelve.” “You’re right!” But then John started playing his brother by giving him false answers—and the unsuspecting Andy continued to praise his brother. “What’s seven and seven?” “Seventeen.” “You got it!”

Left Out
Our third-grader was one of the few non-Christians attending a Catholic school, and every once in a while she felt left out. One day she came home in tears because a priest visiting her classroom had given all the other kids Cheez-Its. I called the teacher to ask why our daughter had been excluded from snacktime—and learned that the priest had given the other kids communion wafers while murmuring “Jesus.”

Prime Cut
My son Bill had just returned from a Cub Scout meeting where he had learned some First Aid.  A family friend who was visiting said, “Okay, let’s say I’ve got a paper cut on my finger. How would you take care of it?”  Bill answered,  “First, you tear off your sleeve.”  He then earnestly proceeded to explain how to make a tourniquet.

Burning Issue
Our local firefighters taught my six-year-old’s class what to do if they ever caught on fire. Several days later, while cooking dinner, I accidentally set off our smoke alarm. My son, who happened to be standing nearby, suddenly dove to the floor and started rolling across it while yelling, “Stop! Drop! And roll!”

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