The Crazy Things Kids Say
Bill Cosby had a television show years ago called, “Kids Say The Darnedest Things.” Art Linkletter had a similar show way back when. The timing of toddlers and the charm of children with answers to life’s simple and complicated questions always lead in an unknown direction.
And so, one goal that Wendy and I believe in with our daughters is to let them be children. We do not necessarily believe in shielding them from all things bad in the world. We just want them to go at their pace. For instance, they are now old enough to understand quite a bit about the tragedy of 9/11. Again, we let them gather information at their pace, because they are children.
Wendy and I adopted the girls well into our mid-lives. So combined, we had quite a personal history, full of stories happy and sad. Some stories had lessons and some were just meant as entertainment. But again, we both agreed anything that the kids heard, had to be for their age level. Well, it seemed except for one topic.
Obviously at some point it would be an issue, past relationships. But clearly, my then eight and six year olds did not need to know their mother’s dating history or my dating and marriage history. That’s right, marriage history. Again that is another story for another time, but for now I want to concentrate on a time long before either of my daughters were born and therefore should have been of no concern of theirs. My current wife Wendy, disagreed.
For a brief period of time, our house had been receiving phone calls and mail for my ex-wife. Unbeknownst to me, Wendy was getting them and not telling me, and I had been getting them and not telling her. It was not a big deal really. Wendy did not know why she was being contacted here, nor wanted to know as was the same with me. Occasionally I am known to want to have fun with telephone callers, and one particular day, this past Valentine’s Day was the day.
I received a solicitation in the mail for my ex-wife. Having grown very weary at this point of receiving the mail and phone calls for a woman I had not seen in over a dozen years, and had never even lived in my current residence. There was a phone number on the correspondence. The girls had not arrived home yet from school, the timing was perfect.
Representative: Hello. Thank you for calling. How can I help you?
Paul: For starters, you can explain to me why I am receiving telephone calls and mail from your company to the attention of Judy Edelman. The woman has never lived here and is of no relation to me in the entire time that I have lived here. (I began to pace in my kitchen side to side)
Representative: We have her name from public records being related to you. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
(now I am having a hard time keeping a straight face because now I have him right where I want him)
Paul: An inconvenience. You think I am calling you about an inconvenience. It’s freaking Valentine’s Day and what does my wife see in the mail? A solicitation addressed to my ex-wife!! Here is what you are going to do, two choices. You can send my current wife a dozen long stem roses for ruining her Valentine’s Day, hence mine too, or you can simply remove my ex-wife’s name from my information. Since I do not expect you to follow through on the first one, remove my ex-wife’s information immediately!
At that point, I had stopped pacing and realize that now that the front door of the house is opened. As I continue to turn towards the door, there is my oldest, standing with her one hand on her hip, a scowl on her face, and the other hand with a finger pointed in the air that swung back and forth to each word.
Madison: You have an ex wife?!?
And there it was. An issue that I had hoped not to have to deal with for another ten years or so. There was an explanation given to her, in as simple terms as I could give. Unfortunately this would not go away. A week later, after having an especially strenuous week, had a day off that Saturday. We decided to go out that evening as a family for dinner and a movie. Dinner was over and we headed to the theater. Everything was perfect. And then Madison decided she wanted to play her favorite game, The Favorite Game. This is where she rattles off questions to find out your favorite colors, trees, ice cream flavor, nothing was sacred. And just when things seemed to have no chance of getting any better, the shoe dropped.
Madison: So Daddy, who is your favorite wife? I mean, I know the other wife is your ex-wife, but which one is your favorite?
And with that, Wendy and I looked at each other, and it was decided, go see the movie, and call it a night.