"Child of the pure, unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy tale."
With my two youngest grandchildren born four years and three early summer weeks apart, there's been a lot of birthday-partying going on the past few weeks - and lots of childhood "speak" and growing-up "do" for adoring grandparents to observe.
Apparently we weren't doing enough observing when the now 4-year-old boy, instead of disappearing into the playground maze at MacDonald's disappeared somewhere else, until he was found in the ladies restroom where he had gone all by himself, giving us minutes that seemed like hours of terror I hope never to experience again.
Wouldn't you know it, not far removed from the potty training years, Mr. Unconcerned Independent expected praise for his "big-boy deed," instead of frantic hugs and the mixed-message lecture, ...No, you have to be 16 before you can go to the bathroom all by yourself."
No disappearing act for his 8-year-old sister, but, oh, what she's learned to do since she was 7. A while back when I was demonstrating some exercises for my ailing back and leg, she outpaced my awkward moves in seconds, added a few perfectly vertical cartwheels and ended with a straight-up handstand that would put a prize-winning gymnast to shame. And her latest accomplishment?
"Grandma, listen: I can burp my A, B, C's."
Always a good - loud - burper and, right on cue, an equally loud "excuse me," she had me wondering if this were a new category for the record books. After all, Guinness has already recognized the longest unbroken apple peeling (172 feet), the largest bubble gum bubble (22 inches in diameter), the longest baby carriage relay race (345.25 miles) in one 24-hour period (presumably without the baby) and, at 120 hours over a five-day period, the longest sermon ever preached. (And you thought your minister was long-winded.)
Naturally I have a few record books of my own filled with the wisest words that ever came out of a (my) child's mouth, but space limits me (and spares you) to just the following sample.
When we lived in Germany, before the days of e-mail and affordable phone calls, our only means of communicating was the slow, one-week/one-way mail system. That's why when my niece, Heather, was born with life-threatening birth defects, I didn't know if she was even alive by the time we received the news, or how we should pray for her. That was no problem for my then 8-year-old son, who bowed his head and said simply, "Dear Jesus, please help Heather have a good time in heaven." (Heather was, indeed, already in heaven, and our family has cherished the memory of this prayer ever since.)
Now, recognizing that mine aren't the only precocious children/grandchildren in the world, let me share a few samples of 6-year-old wisdom gathered by a first-grade teacher who gave each of her students the first half of a well-known saying with instructions to tell her how that saying should end. Comical? Perhaps. Insightful? Without a doubt.
- Don't change horses... until they stop running.
- Strike while... the bug is close.
- Don't bite the hand that... looks dirty.
- If you lie down with dogs, you'll... stink in the morning.
- The pen is mightier than the ... pigs.
- Don't put off until tomorrow what... you put on to go to bed.
- Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and... you have to blow your nose.
- Children should be seen and not... spanked or grounded.
- If at first you don't succeed... get new batteries.
- When the blind lead the blind... get out of the way.
Do/did you have a precocious, insightful child at your house? If so, send your sample to me (by e-mail) for possible use in a future column.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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