When they tell you “don’t beat around the bush,” they don’t mean “don’t use funny words to tell me something,” they mean “don’t hit people when you’re around shrubbery.”
It’s their literalness that makes them so lovable and quotable and which has helped videos with children in them gain millions of YouTube views and sweep every season of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Using their love for words meaning what words mean, I’ve been thinking about other things and expressions that I have in my life that would be so much different if they were exactly what a kid would expect them to be. For example, a car seat might not be a seat in a car but a seat that is also a car (I guess these are called motorcycles but you get the idea, maybe.)
I’m going to give you a ponytail
While horrendously gruesome, there’s no denying it would be cute to see kids walking around with long flowing tails hanging down their backs. Of course, it would take much longer to brush hair which is already one of my least favourite tasks with my girls but if they were to secure two pristine white pony tails, it would be worth it.
Why don’t you try counting sheep?
If I used this at bedtime with either of my girls, there is no questions what would happen.
“If you can’t sleep, try counting sheep.”
“Daddy, you know we don’t have any sheep. You’re teasing me.”
“No, it’s a saying. Just close your eyes and count sheep in your head.”
“But WE DON’T HAVE SHEEP! And I can’t see when my eyes are closed so how could I count them even if we did?”
“They’re imaginary sheep. I think the idea is that your eyes are closed so you’re more likely to fall asleep.”
“Daddy, why isn’t the expression ‘close your eyes and go to sleep?'”
“Because adults aren’t as logical as kids.”
Cotton candy is all the food groups rolled into one food group titled Awesome food group. It’s actually made up of nothing. Have you ever watched cotton candy get made? It just literally appears when you introduce sugar and then you’re given it on a stick or in a bag and your hands and face turn the colour of your stick or bag of cotton candy.
But what if cotton candy was made out of cotton as the name implies? I might be alone in this, but I doubt it: the though of putting cotton balls in your mouth and then chewing on them is repulsing. It is on the top tier of sensory “don’t ever do that’s” along with scraping your nails on a chalkboard and eating ice cream. That means that if cotton candy were to be given the literal meaning treatment it would swing from greatest to worst food of all time.
“Dad, can I chew on some cotton balls?”
“I’ve failed as a parent.”
We’re running late, we need to fly
*Daughters run to the couch, climb up onto the armchair and launch themselves onto the floor.
“Are we on time now Daddy?”
I’m so hungry I could eat a horse
*Blank stares from both children as they re-evaluate the usefulness of their dad. They then walk upstairs backwards and hoard all their stuffed animals, stuffing them into their shirts and hiding them in their closets.
They keep their horses particularly close and walk downstairs with them, tears in their eyes.
“Girls, I didn’t mean I’d actually eat a horse, just that I could eat one.”
“You’re an animal.”
Stop horsing around
This one has added significance given the above and the way I’ve already explained that I treat horses. In a world where people eat horses when they forgot to eat their lunch or left it on the kitchen counter when they left for work that morning, kids will want no part of becoming horses themselves.
“Stop horsing around girls, it’s time to sit at the dining table and eat.”
*Girls throw their stuffed animal horses at my feet. They’re loyal, but not so loyal they want to be eaten for dinner.
Can you imagine building a little stable in the corner of your living room where you kept your family pigs for those 47 instances a day when your kids look at you and using their crazy kid eyes ask “can I have a piggyback ride?”
Because my kids can imagine that. I actually think this might be one of the misunderstandings that would actually improve my quality of life. I have a bad back but also have a weak spot for crazy kid eyes. That combination makes for a lot of sore night lying in bed. The stable of pigs could do nothing but improve my life.