Monday, September 15, 2008

Out Of The Minds of Babes

When I was 5, I asked my mother: "Where does Jesus live?" And she pointed to a tree and said: "There." For years, I would walk by that tree (which happened to be outside the neighborhood pizzeria) and stare at it in wonder, trying to figure out how Jesus could fit inside such a skinny trunk. I look back now and guess my mother was trying to be funny (if not metaphysical), but it got me to thinking -- how many children are walking around at this very moment thoroughly confused by a misunderstood word or phrase, or perhaps (like me) victims of their parents' sense of humor?

I can think of many such examples from my own early childhood. Such as:
  • I used to refuse to eat ham, because it sounded like "hand" to me and I would imagine someone getting their hands smashed by a giant mallet, the product of which would become sandwich meat (blame such violent shows like Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes for this).

  • I used to think baby shampoo was made from real babies being squeezed tightly into small bottles.

  • I thought to "threaten" someone was to take a thread and needle and stab them with it.

  • When women gave birth on television, the camera would stay on the mother's face, mouth wide open, and the sound of the newborn baby crying would take place off-screen. For this reason, I used to think babies were born out of women's mouths.

  • I used to think the world was flat and that the Earth, from pictures I'd seen in books, was a celestial body that hung in the sky above us like the moon. I was shocked to discover, years later, that we actually lived *on* the Earth.

  • I thought dogs were male, and cats were female. Their disdain for each other, therefore, seemed like nothing more than normal marital strife.

  • I used to refuse to eat eggs because I thought they were the flesh of unborn chickadees.

  • I thought dolphins were just really happy and playful sharks.

  • I thought meeting someone "face-to-face" meant that one person would wash the face of the other, then vice-versa.

  • I thought I could stick a straw in an orange and get Tropicana orange juice.

  • I thought a staple gun was a weapon used by secretaries and teachers.

  • I thought pandas were the mixed offspring of polar and grizzly bears.

  • My grandmother once gave me a subway token and told me it was "for the train." I then found my toy choo-choo, slipped the token into the slot at the bottom, and wondered why the toy refused to move on its own.

  • I thought the bread of the Eucharist at Mass were potato chips, and wondered why my mother wouldn't let me go up during Holy Communion to get one.

As you can see, kids can and often do misconstrue things that adults take for granted. I guess this is why education is important. In olden times I'm sure I would have grown up and gotten married before I finally learned that my wife would not, in fact, be delivering our child orally. :-)


  1. Now this was an interesting post. Man, I laughed out loud on 'threaten'. That shit was funny. I was waiting for you to mention the 'scrubbing bubbles'. I still think your reaction to that old commercial is hilarious. ;-)

  2. I didn't think that incident quite fit the criteria of a misundertanding. I was just straight up scared of those damn bubbles!


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