The late Art Linkletter made a fortune by listening to kids say the darndest things. His popular House Party television show generated enough juvenile remarks to fill a book entitled "Kids Say the Darndest Things."
On a television show or not, a child's honesty can be both humorous and thought provoking.
During the children's sermon at our church a couple of years ago, the children were being told about Hiefer International, an organization which our church supports. With gifts of livestock and training, the Arkansas-based Heifer Project helps families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways
Aware that the youngsters were city kids, the woman speaking to the children asked if anyone knew what a heifer was? Several kids guessed; none correctly.
Finally one of the older boys said, "I know what a heifer is. That's what my dad calls my mom sometimes."
The sanctuary was filled with laughter for a long time. We have no idea what was said at the boys' dinner table that day. I have noticed, however, that he hasn't participated in the children's sermon since then.
I was reminded of the joy of children's honest observations recently when I learned what one of my grand nieces said a few days earlier.
A sweet little girl with a bit of a tummy, she was being teased by her older sisters for wearing her shorts higher on the waist then they did. After enough teasing she exclaimed, "I like to wear my pants high; just like Uncle Arvid."
Ouch, another brick in my Geezerhood.
While not yet at the Florida "up to the armpits" look I do wear suspenders to try to keep my slacks at my natural waistline. Men who carry extra pounds like I do can look a bit slimmer by wearing their pants at waist level rather than let them slide underneath their beer belly. (Or, in some cases, ice cream belly.)
I learned of the remark on the same day we heard of another grand niece's more serious comment. My niece was trying to get her daughters, 4 and 3, to sleep. After about five minutes of silence, Charlotte, the 4-year-old, asked, "Mommy, do you think Aunt Cindy is sad because her mommy is in heaven?"
Our niece brought her little girls along to the visitation when my wife's mother passed away last December. Charlotte had a lot of questions at the viewing, all of which her mother tried to answer.
Six months later memories of the event apparently triggered Charlotte's question. Her mother told her that Aunt Cindy was sad because she couldn't see or talk with her mother any more but she was happy that her mom was in heaven with Jesus.
The little one was quiet for a moment and then said, "Mommy, will you pray with me for Cindy's mommy." Our niece led her daughter in a short prayer. Charlotte then rolled over and quickly fell asleep.
Innocence and sweet honesty; I love it.
Back in the days before mandatory car seats, our 4-year-old son was standing in the back seat, immediately behind my wife and me, as we were driving to the grocery store. He was telling us that one of the boys in the neighborhood had repeatedly hit him.
A father doesn't like to hear that his boy is being used as a punching bag. I immediately told my son how to clench his fist and then to smack the other kid right in the nose. "That'll stop him," I assured.
Our son looked at me and innocently and said, "Dad, Jesus doesn't want us to hit people."
Oh boy! You take a kid to Sunday school and he actually listens. I realized at that moment that our son was a better kid than I had been.
I finally said, "You're right, we're not supposed to hit people. But if someone keeps hitting us at some point it's okay to hit back."
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote, "A child's voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who've forgotten how to listen."
For wisdom and for smiles all of us adults would do well to remember how to listen to the voices of the children.