Kids Say — and, It Turns Out, BELIEVE — the Damnedest Things (and yes, that’s how you spell ‘damnedest.’ Trust me. I looked it up. I see that questioning look. Stop it.)

My daughter is a force of nature: whip smart, nurturing and kind, an old soul, beautiful to boot.

And sassy. Head strong. Perhaps a little stubborn.

Check her out, in her 2.5 years of sassy glory (this was seven years ago…but add a foot or two onto her height, and she’s still giving me the exact same expression. Today. Every day, in fact.)

But there are times when I shake my head in wonderment at the naïve words that issue forth from her silly yet seemingly sophisticated mouth.

Case in point: We were driving home from dropping my son off at school the other day, and she was telling me about a person in her life for whom she feels tremendous ill will.

And I quote:

“Mom, I HATE so-and-so.” (name oh-so-creatively changed to protect the hated…)

“Come on, I seriously doubt that you HATE her,” I respond. “You may not like how she acts, or you may not like something she did. But let’s reserve hatred for real evil in life – like Adolph Hitler, for example.”

“True,” she says, stoically. “So true.”

Thus ensued a dramatic pause that seemed to last a lifetime, which I imagined to be her deep soul searching as it related to the power of my thought-provoking, compelling statement. I looked over, and the sheer focus of her gaze, the intensity in her eyes, were undermined mere seconds later by her follow-up clarification:

“Adolph Hitler…He’s that baseball player guy, right?”

(*cue brakes screeching, car swerving, mouth dropping open in aghast horror*)

Sure, she’s 9: But shouldn’t my brilliant, whip smart, Gifted-and-Talented-certified child know who Adolph Hitler is? Didn’t we have this discussion many times? Haven’t they learned about him in elementary school? Didn’t she overhear her brother and I lamenting the terror of his reign when my son read Diary of Anne Frank, crying about it almost nightly?

Her response to my disbelief at her naivete: “But Mom, his name just sounds like the name of a baseball player…”

Oh. Wow.

Out of the mouths of babes, right? Gotta love children, in all their naive, trusting, innocent-to-a-fault ways. And is it just me, or sometimes, do they have opinions that are just downright crazy?

My daughter, it just so happens, comes from a long line of crazy naïve girls. I may or may not embody this example. Remember, I’m the chick who thought artichokes were animals (they have hearts, after all!) and that curb feelers were designed to help blind people drive.

Seriously.

So I’m certainly not one to judge. I am a child of the ’70s. My brother and I grew up watching Donny and Marie (and imagining we would grow up to be just like them — after all, he was a little bit country, and I was definitely a little bit rock ‘n roll).

Flashback to 1970-something: My brother and I are misbehaving one day at a mall – I’m guessing I’m 4 and he’s 6. My mother, being the ever-practical type, disciplines and reprimands us, but not one to miss an opportunity, spies a photo booth while mid-admonishment. Without skipping a beat (I can only imagine, as I’ve blocked the memory out entirely), she pushes my brother and me into the booth, whips the curtain closed and inserts change.

Now remember, this is the ’70s, and these machines are not exactly technologically advanced. A series of loud clicking and snapping ensues, followed by the deep groaning and grinding of gears, lights dimming and flashing…

And outside of the booth, this picture pops out for my proud mommy, who is eagerly awaiting the prize resulting from her spontaneous photo inspiration:

Can you say, "Child Abuse"?

As for my brother and me? We thought we were being fucking killed. Given the intensity of my mother’s scorn (which probably wasn’t all that bad, but in our childhood imaginations, she was the Maddest. Mommy. EVER.), we knew she was done with us.

We knew she was so done, she had put us in a box behind a curtain to have us murdered.

Little did she know she was producing a picture that would live in infamy as the ultimate testament to our naivete — and perhaps to her inability to recognize her sheer power, as reflected in our 4- and 6-year-old eyes.

So while my daughter firmly believed that Adolph Hitler must be a baseball player (because his name just sounds like the name of a baseball player, after all…), at least she does NOT believe that a photo booth is a torture device designed to eradicate all evil children from Planet Earth.

I did. Hell, so did my brother.

And in keeping with the baseball theme established by my daughter, as a little girl, I also believed Yogi Berra was just a fancy, sophisticated way to say Yogi Bear. And this, I believed until I was probably 13. Come to think of it, I also thought Baby Ruth was Babe Ruth’s baby.

I shit you not.

In my young mind, thanks to Sally Struthers, I trusted that the cost of a cup of coffee would save all the children in Ethiopia; I was confident that Luke Skywalker used a Life Saver to kill his father; I vehemently believed that Puff the Magic Dragon was really a wistful song about a depressed giant dragon abandoned by his best friend, Jackie Paper; and I thought blow jobs actually involved blowing (come on, peeps, don’t leave me hanging: We ALL believed that at one time or another, right?).

Innocence is a beautiful thing.

The crazy thing is, I still remember the voracity with which I would have defended all of these beliefs. I also remember the absolute confusion inspired by the correction of my false notions.

Just like, for example, my daughter will most likely remember yesterday morning. As I poured her a bowl of cereal, she lamented that we haven’t had Wheaties in the house in far, far too long.

“Why didn’t you buy them for so long,” she asked. “Were they out of season?”

Sure, sweetheart. The Wheaties were out of season.

I think it may be time to have a conversation with this trusting soul sooner than later about blow jobs and how they do not involve blowing.

(And BTW, if this is news to anyone reading my blog, my apologies…)

OK, fair readers: This is the part where you are compelled to contribute:

  1. What did you believe as a child that you later learned was SOOOO not true?
  2. If you have kids, what utterances have issued forth from their mouths that have made you question their sanity/upbringing/genetics?
  3. Have you ever seen such terror on little faces than in my Photo Booth Murder pic? I swear my brother looks like he has seen a ghost…makes me smile every time.

Oh-oh-OH: It’s also giveaway time! I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to learn the identity of the lucky reader who will own a shirt that exactly matches one of mine…except for the tags and such, of course…

I'll call you, and we can show up on the same day wearing the SAME shirt. We'll be Puke-Shirt BFFs!

…and the winner is…

Lori Dyan, come on down! (and I’m just gonna ignore the fact that your comment was essentially a flirtatious tease aimed at my Manfriend, an electronic “come hither,” k? K…)

Lori, send me a private e-mail or tweet me with your mailing deets — and the shirt will be en route, spunky girl.

Many thanks to all of you for sharing my last post, tweeting my last post, Facebooking my last post, commenting on my last post (and this one, too — hint, hint…) and/or for just being generally awesome.

Seriously. There’s not a douchebag in the entire lot of you!

😉

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