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HOLLENBECK: There’s nothing like the wisdom that comes out of the mouths of babes

November 14, 2011

There are people who don’t like to read columns about the cute things kids say. If you’re one of them and you’re reading this, just move on down the road because this column will be about the cute things kids say. I’m one who relishes such gems of wisdom.
And some of those cute things will have been espoused by my grandchildren and those of others in my intimate acquaintance. Truth be told, the stuff said by youngsters may not be as enchanting to others as it is to kith and kin, but I’ve always liked kids — mine and other people’s — so I enjoy all of it.
If you, however, aren’t of that mindset and you’re still reading this, you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Art Linkletter was one of my favorite TV personalities. A brilliant, talented, compassionate man, he shone his brightest when he interacted with children.
The following accounts were among those he collected from visits he had with youngsters in Sunday School classes.
One of the questions Mr. Linkletter posed to a group of little ones was: “How do you think God made the world?”
This response came from a little boy: “Well, first he made the Pilgrims, then he made the Indians, and the rest is history.”
Another little boy in the class looked especially sad, Mr. Linkletter said. He asked why.
“My dog died,” the little boy replied. The sad expression turned even sadder.
“Well, no wonder you’re sad,” the showman responded. “But you need to remember your dog is with God now and you’ll see him again someday.”
“Whadaya mean?” said the boy.
“Your dog is with God in heaven now,” Linkletter said.
The boy looked at the entertainer, cocked his head to one side and said: “Now what would God want with a dead dog?”
My granddaughter, Molly, who’s a grown-up high schooler now, would have been open season for someone like Art Linkletter or Bill Cosby, who followed in the elder man’s footsteps in featuring kids’ cute comments.
I recall the time Molly accompanied her baby-sitter to the doctor’s office. The sitter was taking her baby daughter there because of an undiagnosed rash.
When the nurse led them into the examining room, Molly, whose voice at the dripped with Southern charm (this was before a teacher along the way would “encourage” her to drop the drawl), told her sitter and the nurse: “You’d bettuh lay hurh down on de table because I know he’s gonna take hurh appendix out.”
That might have been the first time in history an appendectomy would have been the treatment of choice for roseola.
I’ll never forget the day I was baby-sitting with Molly and her siblings and I told her I just had to go home soon because I was really sick.
Never wanting me to leave, Molly presented me with this gracious offer as she gestured toward the bathroom: “Mimi, you can ‘fwoh up here.”
I recall a conversation between Molly and her older sister, Abbey, when both still were quite young. The two were with me when I was feeding feral cats.
“Mimi, do you like to come down here and feed these cats?” Abbey asked.
Before I could respond, Molly admonished her sister.
“Abbey! Mimi just likes to be a kind person!”
I thanked her kindly.
About that same time Molly’s byword had become “lovely.” Everything was lovely from clothes to hats to pets to wash rags.
I was syringe-feeding an orphaned kitten under her watchful eye. Fascinated with the process, she missed nothing.
When I was done, she told me, “Mimi, you have a vehwy lovely kitty.”
Now how can you top that kind of graciousness, I want to know. Calvin, the kitty, and I both were grateful. We really should have thanked her a lot because at that juncture, Calvin, who had been premature and was markedly undeveloped, looked a lot more like a mouse wearing a grass skirt than he resembled a kitten. He eventually grew into a normal-looking cat, but it was rough going for a while.
A former publisher of this newspaper doted on his granddaughter and loved sharing the cute things she would say. I’ll never forget the “mirror moment” he told me about.
She was fascinated with her reflective image at this period, which was heightened by one of her favorite Disney stories, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
She loved to re-enact the evil queen’s frequent question as she would gaze at her mirrored face.
But there was a slight twist to this child’s version.
Instead of the traditional “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” would come this delightful modern-day query:
“Mirruh, mirruh, on de wall,
Who’s the fairest in the mall?”
I hope she received the answer she desired. A little girl I used to know was forever getting into trouble because of the wild tales she liked to tell. On this particular day, she had been playing in her backyard. All of a sudden, she came running into her house.
“Mamma, Mamma, there’s an elephant in the backyard,” she screamed.
Well, that’s not one you hear often, so the mother took a look.
Where her child had seen the elephant was only a large stump, the only thing remaining from a giant oak.
“Now, honey you know there’s no elephant out there. There’s nothing out there but the tree stump. You’re always making up these stories, so you need to go into your room right now and pray about it. You must ask God to forgive you for not telling the truth.”
The little girl spent some time in her room, but after a while returned to the kitchen where her mom was preparing dinner.
“Well, sweetie, did you talk to God and ask him to forgive you for telling stories that aren’t true?” the woman asked her child.
“I did talk to God,” the child said.
“And did you ask him to forgive you for telling stories?” the mother persisted.
“No, not exactly,” the child replied. “God said the first time he looked out there he thought it was an elephant, too.”
Out of the mouths of babes ...
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of the Saline Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.com

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