I have always been intrigued by the ways children sometimes mis-hear the words to prayers, songs, and sayings (“Howard be thy name” being a misunderstanding of “Hallowed be thy name,” for example). Someone once told me about an expression HE had misunderstood as a child. Every night he prayed “Fie sh’die” and wondered what it could possibly mean.* Another remembered singing “All through the night” (that’s the song that goes “Sleep, my child, may peace attend thee”) but with these odd words in the last verse: “I my loving virgin keeping, all through the night.”**
That in turn got me to remember another mis-hearing from my own past: As a child I went to Catholic school, not public. And I thought that the publicans and sinners Jesus hung around with must have been public-school children (who, I was led to believe, were much more likely to sin than we Catholics were).
If you remember similar stories from your own past, share them with family and friends. Often you can learn something about the way you understood the world when you were young.
And, since many of our children are home during the Corona virus pandemic–and so some of us may be spending more time with kids that we usually do–I urge you to listen carefully to what the kids around you say, and what they reveal about how they see the world. Sometimes the way they mis-hear things is simply funny–which, on its own, is probably a good enough reason to listen. But sometimes there are lessons about life and death–from children who aren’t old enough to know them but who, in their own way, know them better than we who have “knowledge.”
With that in mind, I leave you with some advice from children, which I found on the internet. Kids were asked to tell what lessons they had learned through experience. Here’s what some of them said:
Enough said. Make good use of your time sheltering in place. Be aware of revelations coming from unexpected sources. And enjoy a good laugh once in a while.
peace and unrest,