Under the heading of Kids Say the Darndest Things and Sometimes You Have to Tell People
My great-niece and her husband have a five-year-blonde son I’ll call John. They recently adopted a five-year-old son who is black. I’ll call him Bob. The boys are best buddies and call each other by name: “Brother.”
When other children told them they couldn’t be brothers because their skin is different, they displayed proof they’re siblings: their matching sneakers.
The Darndest Thing:
A couple of weeks ago, the family took a road trip. They were making the very long drive home when John announced from the back seat, “My butt hurts.”
Bob remarked, “My butt doesn’t hurt. That’s because black people have big, squishy butts and white people don’t.”
I told their mother that when Bob meets the rest of her family, at least some of us a couple of generations back, he’ll change his mind about white people’s butts.
I have permission to share this story. I changed the names so as not to embarrass the principals in case future girlfriends run across the post.
Around the year 1900, several miles outside the little farming community of Fentress, Texas, a boy working in the field looked up and saw a funnel cloud. He ran home, shouting that that a tornado was coming.
The family gathered in the kitchen. They were frantic. The whirling black cloud was headed directly for the house. At any second, it would hit. All they could do was pray.
So they dropped to their knees and closed their eyes, and the father prayed the only prayer he could think of:
“Father, for what we’re about to receive, make us truly thankful.”
And then he jumped to his feet and shouted, “Oh, no! That won’t do!”
The story is true. My great-aunt Bettie Waller, who had known the principals, told it while her husband, Uncle Maurice, sat by and shook with silent laughter. Last fall, while going through old pictures, I found a piece of paper with story notes written on it—in my great-aunt Ethel’s handwriting—a scrap of the history of a small place.
Epilogue: The tornado turned, missed the house, and hit the barn. Neither humans nor animals were harmed.Everyone was truly thankful.
When I was a child, my family lived across the street from a couple whose daughter, Denise, was almost three years old. Denise had blonde hair her mother put up in a curly little pony tail. She was as cute as a bug and as bright as a button, but not as sweet as pie. She wasn’t a holy terror, but her attitude often (most of the time) made her difficult to deal with. She was just plain contrary, and she made sure everyone knew it. Her favorite word was, “NO.”
One evening she and her mother, Phyllis, was sitting with us in our front yard, as they did nearly every summer evening. Phyllis sat in a glider and Denise stood in the seat beside her.
In the course of the conversation, Phyllis said, “We’ve had quite a day.” She went on to say–in vague terms–that there had been much discussion, much disagreement about what and how things would, and would not, be done, starting at breakfast time and running nonstop for the rest of the day–but she thought an agreement had finally been reached. Then she looked at her daughter and said, very sweetly, “But we’re not going to use that word any more, are we, Neesie?”
Denise leaned over, got right in her face, and said, in a very nasty tone, “NNNNNNNNNNO.”
The audience erupted in laughter.
And Denise beamed.
I would like to say there’s a moral to this story, but after decades of pondering, I haven’t found one. If you can think of anything, please leave it in a comment.