Kids do the darndest things

Helen Row Toews

Who out there remembers a program, on both TV and radio, called “Kids Say the Darndest Things!” hosted by Art Linkletter? He put regular people, especially kids, at ease in front of a microphone, asked them simple questions and received hilarious answers. I often think of that program in the course of my workday spent among children as bus driver and EA. However, I could add to the original title because kid’s also do the darndest things.

One afternoon I strode around a corner near the gymnasium at our local school. It had been a busy morning and my thoughts were preoccupied with the task ahead as I hurried toward a classroom. So preoccupied that I almost fell over a young lad who hunkered outside the boy’s bathroom howling in misery. Lurching to a halt, I knelt down to inquire what terrible calamity had befallen him.

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He turned brimming brown eyes up to mine and drawing a long, ragged breath, wordlessly extended a tiny fist. Now, if a person were able to stop time at moments such as these, and step back for one considering instant, a person might not react so rashly as to accept this unknown object of grief that was offered under duress. A person, able to keep a cool, rational head about them, might not live to regret such impulsive acts of blind trust, especially when it comes to small, weeping, six-year-old boys. Naturally, this wise person I speak of was not me.

The little fellow released the item into my outstretched hand and fitfully, between sobs, began to explain the whole miserable business. “Mrs. Toews – my flashlight – broke and – will never – work again.” Sharing this sad reality brought forth a fresh volley of crying and his shoulders shuddered convulsively as he strove to control the emotions brought on by this dreadful news. Streams of tears ran unchecked down glistening cheeks. He brushed them away with a sleeve. “Maybe you – could fix it?” he quavered, looking into my eyes beseechingly.

 “Maybe so,” I smiled, turning my attention to the problematic thing I clasped. Uncurling my fingers I beheld a tiny metal flashlight attached to a short, silver keychain. But wait, something was odd with this scenario. “Tommy – why is it so wet?” I feigned nonchalance, but in truth I suddenly felt a wave of impending doom clutch at my heart.

He paused and his mop of golden curls bent close as he prodded at the trinket now lying in a pool of water on my palm.

 “Well that’s why it’s not working,” he wailed in an aggrieved tone, clearly annoyed with my dull-witted lack of understanding. “It fell in the toilet when I was going poop and it’s broken forever!”

I can tell you in all honestly, as I gazed at my dripping hand, I could easily have shed a tear myself at that point. It’s certainly true, you never know what may happen next when you work with children each day. They say – and do – the darndest things.

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