Kids Still Say the Darndest Things

TV host, author, lecturer and all-around inspiring individual, Art Linkletter, passed away last week. His 97 years should amaze us all.

The high points: Born to an unwed mother in central Canada in 1912. Orphaned shortly thereafter. Adopted by a shoe-repairing Baptist minister (“He saved souls/soles 7 days a week!” Linkletter would say). Graduated college. Married for 75 years (to the same woman!). Pioneered audience participation-based radio and TV variety shows.

Reality TV never had it so good.

In his best-selling book “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” Linkletter compiled the best of his impromptu conversations with children from his program “House Party.” In his honor, I offer some of my own kids’ darndest things. First, from our firstborn:

During the World Series last year between the Phillies and the Yankees, he said, “I’m going for the Yankees.” I asked why. “Because I don’t know what a Philly is and Yankees are soldiers.”

While unpacking Christmas ornaments, we came across a picture frame ornament that said, “First Christmas 2003” (the year he was born). I asked, “Guess who was born in 2003?” His answer: “Jesus?”

He asked me once if I knew how fast bullets go. “Eighteen million miles per hour,” he replied. I asked how he found that out. “Hadley told me. He learned it at school.”

He then asked if I knew know how many bad guys there are in the world. “Twenty,” he said. Again, I asked how he knew. “Luke told me. He read it in the newspaper.” I inquired as to how many bad guys there are in our town. “Two.” I wasn’t sure if I should feel relieved by the low absolute number or petrified by the high percentage of the total!

My wife asked him if he knew where cheese came from? She gave him a hint: “Mooooo.” His guess: “A moose?”

And when we told him we were going to have twins, his perceptiveness poured forth, “Oh man, that’s going to be a lot of work.”

Now, from our second son:

When he saw a crescent moon rising in the evening sky, he asked, “Is the moon broken?”

While fishing at a pond on a friend’s ranch, he walked down a few dozen feet to a grove of trees. When he came back up, I asked him what he saw. His calm and slightly snarly response: “Fierce animals.”

When I asked, “Who went tee-tee in the garage?” he instinctively passed the blame: “A skunk did.”

He refused to eat watermelon because “it has peas in it.” When I asked him to wash his hands before dinner, he reasoned, “But I’m going to use a fork.” And when I told him he was getting close to age 4, he retorted, “No, I’m not. I’m getting close to 6!” In other words, he wants to be just like his big brother.

And we should want to be like Art Linkletter: contagiously hopeful, fastidiously committed, promoting faith, health, decency and adoption. Enough of art imitating life. Let life imitate Art.

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