In the 1950’s there was a famous TV show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, hosted by Art Linkletter. Several remakes and spin-offs of the show have been done in our day. The basic premise was that the adult host would get on stage with a cute child and have a conversation. The child would proceed to say something cute, funny, or ridiculous, usually to the hosts’s consternation and everyone in the audience would laugh or say, “Aww, how cute”. The show worked because it was totally unscripted. You never knew what the kid would say, and it was funny watching the adult host try to have a conversation with an adorable 4 year old. All parents know how frustrating it is to try and have a rational conversation with someone who thinks three week old gummy bears found under their car seat are an acceptable snack.
There’s no disputing kids can say the darndest things. But I believe they should have a show called, “Parents Say the Dumbest Things”, because we, as parents, can lose all intelligence when communicating with our children.
Example #1: You come home at the end of the day with the kids. There is a shoe bin beside the door where you have told your children to put their shoes before going inside the house. There’s even a handmade sign above the bin that says, “Shoes Go Here.” Your kids, having the brain capacity of a door knob, proceed to kick there shoes off anywhere and everywhere BUT the shoe bin. To which you ask, “Why didn’t you put your shoes in the bin?” Now at this point you’re going to get one of three guaranteed responses: “I don’t know,” “I forgot”, or “Huh?”
Example #2: You walk into the kitchen and someone left the milk out next to their half eaten Oreo snack. Crumbs are everywhere and now the milk smells funny. You don’t want to clean up after someone else, so you ask, “Who left their stuff out and didn’t clean up?” To this you’ll get another option of guaranteed responses, like, “I forgot,” “It wasn’t me,” or “My brother did it”.
Final example: While walking upstairs you see the disaster that is known as your child’s bedroom. You have told the child all day they needed to clean up their room and pick up their clothes. You threatened them with various punishments should they not not complete this task, and yet the room is still an utter disaster. So you look at your child and ask, “Why didn’t you clean up your room like I told you?” fully knowing you’re going to hear those three nightmare inducing words, “I don’t know”.
This is why we, as parents, are dumb people. We ask logical questions to illogical people. We ask people with the comprehension of a pool noodle to explain why they aren’t smarter than a pool noodle. We know our kids aren’t going to have good responses to our questions. They’re going to stare at us with faces like brook trout and say, “I don’t know,” “I forgot”, or “I’m sorry”. None of these answers are satisfactory, but that’s all the answer we’re ever going to get. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. By that definition most parents have completely lost their minds, because we keep expecting our children to have a better response.
One day our kids’ brains will develop into something greater than mushed cabbage. One day they will grow into responsible adults who know how to walk and chew gum at the same time. However, until that time, all parents are going to continue to do the dumbest things, which is to ask questions to which there are no good answers. We have to remember to expect inconsistency, forgetfulness, and lack of common sense from our offspring. We will continue to be mystified by their inability to follow simple instructions and remember the basic rules of the house, i.e. “don’t hit your sister with a frying pan”. Why must we endure this? Why must our children do the darndest things? Why won’t they listen to us?
As our kids would say, “I DON’T KNOW!”