It is a wondrous day indeed when you realize that your child is brilliant!
OK, so I'm a little biased.
But, you have to admit, for only being 10, Kyle has come up with some pretty impressive arguments against some very common, everyday sayings.
It all started innocently enough as he and I were watching television late last week.
"Why do they say those things; what idiots came up with these sayings, anyway?" I heard him mutter.
"Buddy, what are you talking about?" I inquired.
"Oh, you know, those sayings you hear all the time that don't make any sense, like, 'That's as clean as a whistle. How stupid is that, Mom? What, are whistles supposed to be famous for being clean or something?" he said, clearly a little agitated.
When I offered that it probably meant that clean whistles produce stronger, clearer sounds, he replied:
"No, that doesn't make sense. Shouldn't it be clean as an empty box or an airplane with nobody in it or clean as a blank sheet of paper?"
His explanation did sound better; plus, I truly abhor trying to argue logic. He continued.
"What about when someone says, 'I'll be back in a jiffy.' That's impossible; a jiffy is like a millisecond. Not even a millisecond, actually. It's like, you know, a fraction of a millisecond. There, we've just had five jiffies" he said, his voice spilling into a discontented trail. "Shouldn't it be a few minutes at the least?"
"Oh, and what about 'Cry me a river?' First of all, when you cry, it's salt water. A river is fresh water. Secondly, how can you cry a river? Wouldn't it make more sense to cry in a cup?"
My creativity tested and curiosity piqued, I began to try tracking down meanings of some everyday adages so that I could "mix it up" with my son a bit more effectively.
Lucky for me, my old pal Charleen Scott, originally of northern Trumbull county, knew right where to find such information. "Just go to www.goodwords.com, there's all sorts of information about how today's sayings ever got started," she said.
Here is a sampling of the data you can retrieve from that enlightening site. Oh, and by the way, most of these sayings originated in jolly old England, just so you know.
"Eat humble pie." I guess this refers to the old world practice of servants being fed meals made from deer waste (seriously?!) while their masters and their guests had the better cuts of meat. How this turned into regretting your words is not clearly specified.
"Cut through the red tape." Seems as though, back before the turn of the last century, solicitors kept their clients' papers in file folders tied with - what else? - red ribbon to prevent the papers from falling out. Of course, when they wanted to get at the papers, they would have to cut through the red tape. Hmm. Sounds a lot easier than some of the non-literal red tape that many offices coil tightly around documents in the present day, but I digress.
"Have a frog in your throat." Apparently, Medieval physicians believed that the secretions of a frog could cure a cough if they were coated on the throat of the patient. The frog was placed in the mouth of the sufferer and remained there until the physician decided that the treatment was complete. OK, that's just wrong on so many levels.
After reviewing all of these old world explanations/origins of modern day axioms with my prodigy son, he looked me "dead in the eye" and said, "Yeah, no, they're still dumb."
"I mean, what about when someone says, 'You made my day.' Ridiculous. Only God can make a day. Why don't they just say, 'You made my day better?'"
Leaving his chatty Mom close to speechless, I told Kyle he was right - and that he certainly does the latter for me.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.