The Wisdom of Their Years

So today is Michelle’s Birthday and the other day we were trying to plan what to do when we realized that DJ and Lindsey had asked us over to dinner for the evening and when we accepted, it had slipped our minds that it was going to be her birthday. We decided that spending the evening with the kids and grandkids was better than any dinner out any day, so we kept our date with the kids. I made her birthday cake and got the presents together and we headed over to their house.

We had just finished dinner and the cake when Zachary, my youngest grandson, asked for another piece of cake. His mother told him that he didn’t need the sugar, to which the adults all agreed. In fact, with Zac, more sugar would have been like turning the heat up on a pot of boiling water. He didn’t need sugar solely so we could still have a coherent conversation. We didn’t need the sugar for vastly different reasons. To a three-year-old, the sugar is jet fuel, but to an adult metabolism, it is just more luggage. Reyna, my granddaughter, said that sugar didn’t affect her. I replied that was because—since she was a girl—she was already sugar and spice and everything nice.

Her father chimed in that most girls start that way, but as they get older, the sugar burns off and all that is left is spice. His wife and my wife both looked like they couldn’t believe he said that, to which I agreed. This drew raised eyebrows full of promise of something coming my way later.

Reyna turned to her father, and with genuine curiosity, asked “Is the spice the drama?”

We all died laughing. “Out of the mouths of babes” may be a trite and overused cliché, but it is one that is never untrue. “Kids say the darnedest things” may be an old TV show (with the grandmaster of TV Bill Cosby and I tell you there will never be another one anywhere close to his caliber on TV again) but it describes one of the great truths of our species.

Is it any wonder that families with small children are rarely dull? People, if you ever find yourself bored and wanting some cheap entertainment, visit a family with a three-year-old and a four-year-old in the house and you will not want for smiles, grins or belly laughs for the rest of the evening. Or at least until 8 o’clock when the kids’ bedtime comes around. After that it’s back to the club scene or a rented DVD for most.

I just wish I had a digital recorder trained on those kids 24 hours a day. Some of the pearls of wisdom they share should be captured for posterity. Somewhere, amid the endless recitations of Monsters Inc. or Scooby Doo, Where Are You, we will find the greatest truths of our age…from a three year old.

When my nephew Alex was about 6, me and my boys and my brother and his boys all went to the Nantahala mountains for a camping trip. During this trip, we followed my brother’s suggestion and went white water rafting. In preparation for the trip, we listened to the outfitter tell us of the put-outs and the different categories of rapids. He cautioned that we ought to put in by this one turn because of the other side of the turn was a set of Category 6 rapids. My brother said (quite facetiously I might add) we could do that. I added “We laugh at danger.”

Alex turned around with a pale, wide-eyed look on his face, obviously thinking we were serious, and uttered “No, we don’t.”

Never was a truer line uttered.

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