If you’ve raised a child, it’s a sure thing that your precious little darling has embarrassed you in public by saying aloud what most adults would think, but not mention. It seems we are born honest and it takes our parents several years to train that character flaw out of us.
The little woman, Winnie, had one grandmother who ascribed to the “kids should be seen, but not heard” philosophy. A visit to her Grammy London’s house was not a good time. Winnie and her sisters were expected to sit on the sofa, legs crossed and hands resting gently on their laps. They were to speak only when spoken to, or otherwise become the target of a stern lecture about ladylike behavior and proper manners. Grammy London was not a fan favorite.
Nonetheless, when our children were young—Jack was six and Maggie was three—Winnie thought they should meet their great grandmother before it was too late. About 15 minutes into the visit, during which the children had been asked to sit quietly at least a half dozen times, Maggie asked her mother a good question.
In a voice loud enough to be heard by Grammy London and maybe the upstairs neighbors, Maggie queried, “So, Mommy, what’s so great about Great Grammy London, anyway?” It’s a question that has gone unanswered to this day.
Many years ago, when Jack was four years old, I had advertised a camper for sale in Uncle Hank’s Trading Post. Pete, from Waterford, had come over to check it out on a Thursday evening and seemed interested. Jack had, apparently, overheard me express optimism to Winnie later that night.
On Saturday, when Pete returned with his wife for another look, he noticed that Jack was following him closely as he showed the Coachmen to his spouse. Finally, Pete’s curiosity got the best of him and he asked Jack why he was following so closely. “And, have you been sniffing me, son? Do I smell funny to you?” Jack smiled at Pete and explained. “Oh no, sir, but last night I heard Daddy tell Mommy that you smelled like money.” Pete didn’t buy my camper.
Kids seem to save their most embarrassing commentaries for crowded restaurants. My brother, KC, tells me of a trip to Denny’s with his kids. His boy, Eli, is very curious, observant, and . . . loud. About half way through his “Moon over My Hammie” breakfast, KC lost his appetite when Eli blurted out the obvious. Just as the waiter delivered meals to the family in the booth next to theirs, Eli said, “You’re right, Daddy. Those fat people shouldn’t eat all those pancakes.”
“Eli, I didn’t say that.” KC’s wife, Raquel, says his face changed from tomato red to frightened white within seconds. It got worse. “But, Daddy, you said, ‘no wonder they’re so fat, when they both ordered “The Big Stack”’.”
I guess KC left $25 along with half his family’s food on the table and made for the door; Eli crying as they left. “But Daddy, I’m not fat, why can’t I finish my waffle?” he screamed.
Kids…you gotta love ‘em.