Written by Paul Penner Tuesday, 24 August 2010 16:12
The minds of young children are like a blank slate. As they interact with parents, relatives, peers and siblings, their minds are like sponges soaking up everything that comes along and repeating what they hear in the most awkward of moments.
While working for a company producing tutorial software, daughter Jessica came across a phrase that could be interpreted more than one way. One interpretation of a sentence translated into English is, “Children talk when chickens urinate.”
Who knows, perhaps that was the original meaning, especially since children and animals are part of the equation.
It’s not difficult to imagine. A child observes an unusual event and instantly reacts to what he or she sees. A simpler description might be “hear-say” or “see-say,” or in the language of today’s technology-savvy culture, “garbage in, garbage out.”
My personal experience as a child confirms this theory, combined with an immediate disciplinary routine, thus bringing the point home with amazing clarity that I committed a great transgression.
Imagine observing a conversation between a grandfather and a child.
“Grandpa,” the child asks, “where do you keep your marbles?”
“My marbles? What on earth do you mean, child?” Grandpa responds.
“Daddy says you lost them, and, I want to play with them,” replies the child.
That’s not what I said. It was worse than that.
Looking back, I wished the circumstances only had to do with making crude remarks about urinating chickens or grandpa losing his marbles, and even punished.
In my defense, my naiveté as a child in the second grade deserves merciful consideration. Older kids in my rural school encouraged the use of colorful language in normal conversations. Unfortunately, not knowing the meaning of the words and why they were bad, I used the new words while sitting down at the dinner table.
Need I say more?
Yes, but briefly. As the recipient of a thorough “mouth-washing” with homemade soap, an encounter of this nature encourages immediate repentance and renewed resolve to walk along the straight and narrow path.
If my memory serves correctly, I didn’t survive the mouth-washing episode without experiencing a violent gag reflex, thanks to the lye in the soap. To this day, that scent transports me back to that moment in time.
Enter stage right, my hero the next day: older sister, Loraine, a student in high school. She confronted the boys who gave those words to me. Imagine the fury of a momma bear defending her cubs and you get the idea.
For the moment, these boys couldn’t repent and turn away from their wicked ways fast enough. Mount Olympus breathed fire and brimstone and the fear of God fell upon them as they cowered in their seats of the school bus.
Well, that’s how I remembered it at the time. From my vantage point, it was an inspiring sight to behold. My big sister protected me from further abuse the rest of that day. The mouth washing with lye soap was almost worth the cost to witness this event.