Kids say the darnedest things. Bill Cosby showed us with his comedy series of the same name during the 1990s. Art Linkletter implied as well decades earlier. Those of us who have raised children know it's true. My two daughters are no exception.
Looking back, I couldn't pick which little nugget was the darnedest but two came to mind...one from each child. So I'm using both for the title of this post. Both girls get equal time.
My husband and I were never ones to discourage our children. If they had dreams, we said anything is possible. The word "can't" was not used in response to those kinds of discussions. Imagine our surprise one day when our younger daughter, aged 3 or 4, blurted, "I want to be a horse when I grow up". I should add that the child had an obsession with horses at that time of her life. She had toy horses of various sizes and colors. They slept with her, ate with her (she'd arrange them around her dinner plate; pretend they were going to dive into her cereal bowl) and she carried them with her wherever we went. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when she made that little proclamation. But it was. How to respond to it was tricky. Those negative words (can't, impossible, never) started swimming through my head as I looked at her innocent face.
Her sister, on the other hand, had different ideas. Two and a half years older, she was precocious and outspoken. I knew by the look on her face that she wasn't going to put up with such a statement. She was wisecracking at an early age. So as her little eyes bored a hole into her younger sister, she loudly announced with hands on hips, "You can't be a horse when you grow up!".
I then looked at my youngest and I couldn't help myself. "She can be whatever she wants to be," I meekly responded. The older child gave me that look of, "You're the grown-up. I can't believe you just said that". And always getting the last word, "It's not possible," came her confident little voice.
It was quite some time until the horse loving child realized the probability of being a horse wasn't in her biological favor. But until that point we listened patiently as she proclaimed that it was her life's ambition. Her sister wasn't so patient, but got used to and enjoyed rolling her eyes whenever the subject was mentioned.
A few years passed and the older child went through an identity crisis. It happens to the best of them. The mid to late elementary school years introduce a need to belong, which follows them into the "heathen" years (middle school), when all parents wonder who the stranger is that's eating their food.
So it came with great surprise when, after school one day, our oldest professed to being a vegetarian. Shock is a better word. You see, the child had an aversion to vegetables. She was a meat, starch and cheese (especially cheese) kid. Vegetables on the plate? No problem. Depending on the type of veggie, it was scooted, scraped, smashed or isolated like a fort surrounded by a moat. But not eaten. Never eaten. Once, on discovering she'd ingested a few diced carrots that were mixed in with some rice, the child's gag reflexes went into overdrive. Drama and vegetables were synonymous to her.
When the new vegetarian entered our household, I learned from her that so-and-so from school was one so she thought she would be too. The look on the vegetarian's face when told the meaning of being a vegetarian was priceless. "You mean I have to eat vegetables to be a vegetarian?" Yes. It would probably be a good idea to like vegetables too.
No vegetarian in the world converted to eating cheeseburgers as quickly as our daughter did upon that discovery. I've often wondered just what she thought the meaning was. Perhaps it was artistic sounding to her and just enough to make her feel different but accepted in a "cool" way.
Kids. They say the darnedest things.