Much wisdom comes out of mouths of babes

Lynda Hollenbeck

Recently, as I was fishing around in a dresser drawer, I came across an old watch that had belonged to my daughter a lot of years ago. This was a Cinderella souvenir timepiece and featured the beautiful Disney character under the crystal.
Judging from the number of Cinderella wannabes I saw recently at Downtown Benton's Spook City, it appears that Cinderella still is a popular literary/movie heroine for little girls.
I find that somewhat refreshing. With all the ugly stuff out there, it's comforting to know that youngsters still believe in Cinderellas and pretty dresses and second chances.
Finding the childlike trinket triggered nice memories of those earlier years when my late spouse and I were raising the children. Long before his passing, I said several times that I would love to have been able to have gone back and done it all again, even the times when life wasn't easy.
When your children are young and you're intertwined in so many things, it really is the best of times though occasionally it might seem like the worst of times.
I recall another innocent memory that focused on a watch. This one involved my then-5-year-old son.
Allen had an intense fascination with watches and clocks. I wouldn't have been surprised if he hadn't gotten into watch/clock repair, but he chose another route.
(I did have a cousin who could take clocks apart, then put them back together and they would work. My kids didn't get the trait.)
I don't think I'll ever forget the day Allen called me at work to tell me that his babysitter had loaned him a watch to wear while he was at her home. He couldn't have been more thrilled. He then asked me what time my watch had and I, of course, told him.
His time was slightly different. But he then remarked, with complete sincerity, "My watch probably runs faster than yours. Yours is a Timex and mine is a Wrist."
I stifled a laugh.
It was at that point I realized I never had used the term "wrist watch" in his presence. I habitually refer to my timepiece as simply my watch. So when the sitter called the instrument a wrist watch, he naturally assumed that must be its brand name.
I thought about trying to explain a few things to him until I shared the incident with a friend. I changed my mind upon hearing his remark: "When you talk to him, be sure to tell him I have a Pocket watch. Pocket, of course, would be spelled with a capital P, just like Wrist must call for a capital W. And desk clock must get a big D ... "
Nothing like stirring the confusion pot a little more ... but kids are great for bringing lightness to the sometimes heavy moments of life.
You really never know what a youngster might say at any given moment. Before they start talking, you work with them and coax them to say certain words and then later on they'll blurt out something that makes you want to take cover.
My daughter, now a seasoned elementary teacher, showed signs early on that she would be finding the teaching chair in the classroom. I just wasn't smart enough to pick up on the signals.
She was a tiny thing with a huge voice. No one ever had to tell her to speak up. Whispering wasn't an option and it wasn't possible to say "oh, she's trying to say (something else)" because she always enunciated perfectly.
Frequently, this wasn't a blessing.
During a visit to a worship service at a relative's church, she began rattling papers while scribbling all over the service bulletin. She wasn't saying anything, but she was getting louder by the minute, so I admonished her to be quiet.
She looked at me with disgust and responded, in a tone that could be heard at the back of the classroom (or the large sanctuary as it happened to be), "I'M JUST WRITING IN THE SAND."
The minister had been preaching on a scriptural passage in which he had said several times "and Jesus was writing in the sand ... "
Karen probably could have given a better account of the sermon than most adults in the congregation.
A couple of years later on as a student at the Riggs studio in Benton, she participated in a gymnastics meet. I was in the audience along with other parents and friends and suddenly was shocked to see Karen rearranging the performing order as the girls were standing on the floor, ready to compete. Taking them by the arm, she physically placed them in different spots in the formation.
It seems that someone had gotten out of the assigned order and this teacher-in-waiting had to have a proper line before she was willing to perform.
She didn't publicly announce when it was time to start, but that could have been because she had forgotten to check her Wrist Watch.
Kids. You gotta love 'em.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.