The following is a bit off-color, but is in fact a true story. When I read the prompt, "Huh?" this story was the first to pop in my mind and it's taken a firm grip there. So, here goes....
"Okay girls, it's time to go," I said. "I'm headed to the car. Get a move on."
This was part of our great getting-ready-for-school ritual, and this day was no different. I pushed, pushed, pushed in order to get my two elementary aged daughters out the door by 7:30, which invariably stretched to 7:40. "I can't be late," I said. "I'm the teacher!"
We were finally packed in the car, lunches in tow, and headed off to school. "Let's see," I thought. "We've got P.E. first thing this morning, but I need to run copies of the math quiz. It'd be good if I grabbed the foam balls on the way back to class. It'd save us some time on PE set-up. We'll need extra math time in order to get the quiz and today's lesson done." I continued thinking through the beginning-of-the-day tasks for that morning when my 9 year old daughter interrupted my thoughts.
"Hey Mommy, wouldn't it be cool if humans had balls?" she asked.
"Huh?" I choke. The feeling of shock slammed into my chest. I asked myself, "Did she just say what I think she said?"
"Wouldn't it be cool if humans had balls?" she repeated.
"What?" I screech. "What do you mean?"
"You know, like Rhino," she says.
"Rhino?" I stammered in confusion.
"Yeah, Rhino, the hamster in the movie "Bolt". He goes all over the place in that little plastic ball. Wouldn't it be cool if humans had big plastic balls like that?" she explains. "We could go all over the place. It would be so cool!"
"Ooh, that would be cool," piped in my second born.
As the I-can't-believe-I-just-heard-that shock begins to wear off, I burst into gut-wrenching laughter. My view of the road became blurred by the tears springing out of my eyes. I couldn't help it.
"What's so funny?" she asked and began to giggle as my infectious laughter spread to her and then on to her sister.
I was laughing so hard that I couldn't answer her. Between gasps I said, "I'll tell you in a minute."
Several minutes later, I finally caught my breath and candidly explained why that was not the best way to phrase her question. I was a bit sad that some of my daughters' innocence was lost that day, but I wanted to protect her from the embarrassment that might result from that kind of question being asked in class. It's hard to be prepared for everything that a child might throw at me, and this one certainly caught me off guard. You know, children should come with manufacturers labels attached: Warning! Sense of humor required!
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