Chinese Whispers is apparently another name for this game. Sounds a little classier and possibly even slightly offensive but the premise is the same. You whisper something into someone’s ear and they whisper it into someone else’s ear and so on and so on. By the time you get to the end of the “telephone line,” your message has more than likely been changed and even misconstrued.
Somehow, that same telephone line exists between parents and kids. We say one thing and they hear another. I was guilty of it as a child and I’m guilty of it as a parent. But it makes for some awfully funny stories.
The most recent story that cracked me up came from my 3 year old son, Evan. He goes to a sitter’s house 3 days a week. I’ve never been one known for routine and even at the tender age of 3, my son seemed to pick up the same habits. Here’s my quirk: I hate driving the same way every day. I can’t stand it. I need to change up the scenery. Sometimes, to get to the sitter’s house, I take the highway. Other days, I take the back way. One way is longer but quicker and the other way is shorter but more lights.
Evan seems to have picked up the same habit. He’ll get upset if I go a way that he hadn’t planned to go. He actually told me he always likes to go on the highway. So I got into the habit of going the highway. He learned pretty quickly which turns I needed to make to get to the highway.
As I was approaching my turn, he motioned to me and said “low.” I looked at him quizzically. “What?” He said, “I want you to go the low way.” It was then that I realized that he did not want to go on the highway. So the alternate route must, of course, be the low way.
I laughed. I didn’t contradict what he had said because in a 3 year old mind, I could see how that makes perfect sense. I can remember having the same types of conclusions when I was a child. Sometimes good and sometimes not so good.
I grew up in rural area with all sorts of wildlife, including bats. I was particularly terrified of the bats because they often flew in our yard at dusk. I was convinced that one of them would surely bite me. But it wasn’t the bite that had me so terrified. My mother often warned us to stay away from animals, like bats, because they were known to have RABIES!
Again, it wasn’t the so much rabies that had me terrified. It was the treatment for rabies. In her effort to strike the fear of God in us, my mother had told us that the treatment for rabies included 15 shots in the stomach, which may or may not be true
Now 15 shots in the stomach would be enough to frighten any child. But in my overactive and not quite logical imagination, I imagined these were 15 gunshots to the stomach. How I thought anyone could survive such a thing, I don’t really know. But I do know that it was enough to keep me away from any animal with even remotest possibility of rabies.
Having had these stories in my mind as a kid, it helps me to understand how my son’s mind must work. So when he gets confused or takes something a little too literally, I stifle a little laughter, explain what I really meant, and hopefully put his mind at ease. After all, I wouldn’t want him to think he’ll ever get shot in the stomach.