Life is hectic in the adult world. We run a mile a minute, climbing the ladder, chewing the fat, and acting like chickens with our heads cut off. Seldom do we slow down enough to realize the perceptions we are leaving in the minds of children.

Children listen to more adult conversations than we give them credit for. We simply assume that they are enveloped in their childish world and are paying no attention to what we say or do. (Actually, I think the only times they fail to hear adults, are when they are asked to help clean something or go to bed.)

It is amazing what happens in a child’s brain. Something that is taken for granted by an adult can utterly confuse and befuddle a child. Colloquialisms are commonly bewildering to children. For example, years ago at our supper discussion, I was relating the poor physical condition of our friend’s Labrador retriever. “Old Binkley is on his last leg.” I sorrowfully reported to the rest of the family. “It seems he is really going downhill fast,” added my mother. A puzzled look and a withheld tear came across my five-year-old sister Bethany’s face. “The last time I saw him, he had all four legs,” she stammered, mentally picturing a one-legged Binkley, sprinting down a hill.

Once, we invited a family over for supper, and when they asked what we were going to eat, I replied “Lizard ‘n Onions, my favorite!” The lady almost passed out and her husband suddenly remembered an urgent appointment. My rather embarrassed mother explained that “liver and onions” were on the menu, not my imagined reptilian entree. The couple breathed a sigh of relief, and the husband began to explain to me what the function of the liver was. Now I was sick; and to think I used to like that stuff! Still to this day, I can’t choke down liver.

Of course, I wasn’t the only gourmet child to crawl the planet. Our friend’s little boy absolutely loves Macedonian Cheese (Macaroni and cheese). My little sisters couldn’t imagine why we had to dress the turkey before we could eat it, and you should have seen us trying to convince them that Horsey Sauce wasn’t an animal product!

The media can confuse children as well. Some friends of ours have family devotions every evening. When they got around to their youngest daughter and asked what she wanted to pray about, she said “Let’s pray for Israel who is fighting in the Middle East, his mother must be sad.” Apparently she had heard the daily news and assumed that I (the only Israel she knows) had gone to war.

My five-year-old son had been watching a Creation Science documentary discussing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Later that day he asked his mother, “What does survival of the fish mean?”

Sometimes even literature can cause a problem. I thought Shakespeare was the most painful reading I would ever encounter until our friend’s little boy told me he was reading C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Hernia.” Ouch!

My two-year-old son was listening intently to a conversation between an older gentleman who often visits our home and I. At one point the man bemoaned the fact that he had left an important envelope at his home that he had intended to bring on his trip. My two-year-old burst into uproarious laughter. Not being able to discern what was so funny, I pulled him aside and asked him to explain. “Mr. Riley forgot his Heffalump!” He was envisioning not an envelope but rather our friend toting around the fictitious character from the Whinnie-The-Pooh stories.

These moments make great teaching opportunities. Like when my little sister Mercy learned that the hymn was entitled “How Great Thou Art” as opposed to “How Great I Art.” (Talk about a theological paradigm shift!) Or like the time when one of the old Christmas Carols suddenly became a hygiene lesson as one of our little carolers loudly sang out, “We Three Kings of Odorant Are”.

A misunderstanding of one small word can dramatically change the theological focus. I like the story Dr. James Dobson tells of the young boy who recited the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name.” Of course, Dr. Dobson knows quite well how children can be confused by things adults take for granted. One little boy has mistakenly titled Dr. Dobson’s national ministry “Poke us on the fanny,” instead of the proper “Focus on the Family.”

The humor in these stories also conveys the simplicity and purity of childhood. Just think how boring life would be if we were all born knowing everything. Parents would miss the fun of training, correcting and teaching their children. And children would miss the fun of embarrassing their parents!

That’s why God gives children to parents. I suppose we adults must look the same way to God sometimes. Some of the things we do must make Him laugh. Not in a cruel, sarcastic way, but as a loving, understanding Father. He doesn’t expect us to know everything at once, he just wants us to keep a child-like faith and trust in Him. Let’s slow down enough to enjoy children, drink in the simplicity of life, and enjoy a good laugh along the way.


Israel Wayne was home educated and currently serves as Marketing Director for the national publication Home School Digest. He is the author of the book, Homeschooling From A Biblical Worldview, published by Wisdom’s Gate, and site editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net

Israel and his wife Brook (also a homeschool graduate) and reside in Michigan with their five young children. Write to Irsael at Wisdom’s Gate, P.O. Box 374, Covert, MI 49043. 1-800-343-1943, www.homeschooldigest.com