When I was a kid there was a show on television every afternoon called Art Linkletter’s House Party. It was an afternoon variety show and to be honest, I don’t really remember much about it except for the regular segment called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Mr. Linkletter would take four kids, put them onstage and ask them questions. It never failed to produce a few laughs, and Bill Cosby later revived that segment of the show for a full series that lasted for three years.
On a recent flight to Norway I had the opportunity to host my own “Kid’s Say the Darndest Things” interview. Well sure, there was no camera and no audience, but I was there with two kids who were pretty funny. Let me explain.
When I got on the flight I noticed a mom with three small children sitting in the bulkhead seats a few rows in front of us. THREE. SMALL. CHILDREN. I used to fly to California with my three boys when they were little, but the older two were already four and seven by the time our third one came along, and it’s only a three and a half hour flight from here to southern California. I can’t fathom making an overseas flight with three kids, five and under. At that point it does not matter what age, race, or religion we are, a mom simply has to help another mom out under such circumstances. So when I saw this mom struggling to get a bottle ready while holding her baby, I asked if I could help her at all. She gratefully handed me the bottle and asked if I would put some warm water in it. And then we were friends.
We’d been on the flight for quite some time when she saw me passing by on my way back to my seat from the restroom. She asked if I’d sit with her two older kids while she took the baby to change his diaper. And that’s when it was my turn to host my own segment of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”
As soon as his mom left, the little boy started by loudly saying “untie me, untie me!” I hadn’t noticed before, but his mom had a harness/backpack (or as some like to call it, a leash) attached to the child and tied to a post at the front of the seat giving him a good three to four feet to move about the cabin. Some people think these types of leashes are cruel and demeaning but seriously, I think it was clearly this mother’s only link to sanity and the child’s safety (not to mention the sanity of the rest of the passengers.) He was busy. BUSY! As he was yelling for me to untie him, his older sister was saying, “Don’t do it. He’ll run.” To which he replied loudly “I WON’T RUN, I WON’T RUN!” Time to change the conversation!
I started with the obvious: What’s your name?
Girl: Satina (I think that’s what she said but to be honest, it could have been any number of S names.)
Boy: Zane (again, this probably won’t stand up in court.)
Me: Where are you going?
Satina: Africa (Oh, I think to myself, bless your momma, she still has another flight after we land in Amsterdam. Good thing she’s got that leash!)
Me: Which country in Africa?
Satina: The one where my Grandma lives. (Ah, Grandmaland. Also known as Ghana, I found out later.)
Me: How old are you?
Zane: (Holds up two fingers.)
Satina: No, you’re this many (holds up three fingers.)
Zane: NO I’M NOT! I’M THIS MANY! (Holding up two fingers again and using his VERY LOUD VOICE. Okay, so you’re two/three. Let’s change the subject before a war breaks out.)
Satina quietly tells me she’s five.
Me: Where do you live?
Satina: Um . . . . .
Satina: No, Minneapolis.
Zane: I’m afraid of Minnesota!
Zane: Because they EAT you there!
Me: What eats you?
Zane: The dinosaurs! (Perhaps he was confusing them with the mosquitoes. That’s understandable.)
Me: I live in Minnesota, and we don’t have dinosaurs. (Zane is obviously confused by this statement.)
Satina: What’s the name of that place? The one you talked about before?
Satina: Yes. We used to live in Minnesota but now we live in Minneapolis.
Me: Guess what? Minneapolis is in Minnesota.
Satina: It is? (She seemed to think that this is some sort of incredulous news!)
Zane is saying nothing at this point. He’s probably thinking about how those man-eating dinosaurs will soon be making their way to his street.
I love kids! They crack me up.
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.