Little kids tend to think their parents are something like God.
It’s probably because parents know so much more than their children that the kids are astonished at the knowledge and wisdom they have. But, since adults are fallible people, that can create problems for their offspring.
Take, for example, a question I had for my mother one day when she was giving me a bath. I was fascinated by the reflection of the bathroom’s overhead light in the tub and how it undulated with the water’s ripples.
I wanted to know the word for this thing. Pointing at it, I asked, “What’s that?”
My mother, viewing the scene from a different angle, saw only bathwater. “There’s nothing there,” she said.
This confused me. I could see it and didn’t understand why she couldn’t. Finally, one day when we were in the living room, I asked, “Mommy, what are those funny things in the bathtub?”
“Oh,” she said. “Those are potatoes.”
Now, lest you think my mother was off her rocker, allow me to explain. My sister had a habit of crawling into the kitchen, grabbing a potato, crawling to the bathroom, and depositing it into the tub. She’d completely empty the potato drawer, leaving all of them for my Mom to cart back to the kitchen. Nobody knows why. It was just something she, as a baby, loved to do.
But then, of course, I thought the word for light reflecting on water was “potatoes.” It must have been. My mother said so. And because she was so smart and knew so much, it had to be right.
On another occasion when Mom was gardening, I asked if I could pick some flowers. “You may pick a few,” she said.
So I picked some. I don’t remember exactly how many it was, perhaps five or six.
That earned me a spanking. “A few is three!” she told me.
Because of the spanking, it wasn’t a lesson I was likely to forget. For years I thought “few” meant three, the way “couple” means two. Boy, did I get some funny looks from schoolmates when I told them that. And they didn’t hold back on telling me how stupid I was.
You have to admit it makes mincemeat out of Christ’s statement “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 20:16) Really? Out of all the billions of people in the world, only three are chosen?
Perhaps this explains why some folk believe idiotic statements about the Catholic Church. If, when they were very young, their parents told them the tabernacle contains a skull, that the Pope practices cannibalism, and that the Catholic Church is responsible for the Lincoln assassination and the sinking of the Titanic, they might never question these things—and take them as absolute truth, no matter how absurd they are.
[SIDENOTE: I didn’t make those up. The Church has actually been accused of them.]
After all, when they are young, they figure their parents are so very smart! My older daughter, when a school assignment asked her to say something her mother knew, wrote “Amost Everything.”
I had to sit her down and explain that there was so much to know that I didn’t even come close to knowing almost everything. I could, in fact, be wrong sometimes. I could see, while I was talking to her, that I was diminishing myself in her eyes, but it was better for her to know the truth.
I did, however, correct her spelling by pointing out that “almost” has an “l” in it.
That, at least, was one thing I was quite sure of.