By Malia Mendez
I’ve spent a lot of time with children.
And over time I’ve realized that not recording the priceless, stupid and ridiculously profound shit they say is genuinely a crime. Were I not to record these and dozens more quotes that I have tucked into old leather journals, I would be robbing my own memory and society at large. That said, here are five of my favorite instances of children being the dopest people on the planet.
Once while debriefing the most recently released movies with kindergarteners at my childcare job, I asked for ~professional~ opinions about Incredibles 2. I got a few comments about it being a little too scary for their liking and others about how the Parr kids were much braver than their younger siblings, but my favorite reflection is born in deep, cultivated wisdom:
“It’s mostly a mix of happy and sad the whole time.”
Truly, elegantly said. A wisdom Shakespeare hath not matched.
In all seriousness, though, this 5-year-old really got the sense of mixed emotions. To be honest, I wrote this one down knowing full well it encompassed the movie in a simply truthful way that no critic was humble enough to communicate. That day I learned that maybe the simplest words, the cables of our language, can actually be more apt than the extensions we use to appear smarter. Maybe in using the words I plainly see fit, I will be more precise than I ever could be with mere synonyms.
Not all of these quotes were paired with philosophical stirrings, though I’d argue you could find them if you sought them. It is in this category I place the following exchange, held after watching a short clip that included a monster-type character:
“Are you scared?”
“Are you sure?”
The most relatable of them all.
On another day when we shared things we were thankful for, I received two answers that stood out as contemplative and genuine. Not quite as relatable for myself, but potentially for some.
“I’m thankful for myself.”
“I’m thankful that I’m in love at only six years old.”
I appreciate these thanksgivings more each time I read them.
A fairly recent addition to this Wunderkammer came from a conversation I had the other day with a toddler who described to me how she retains the information she is told. Paired with a fantastic motion of turning an imaginary knob by her left ear, she explained:
“Sometimes when I hear things I go ‘chk-chk’ to keep it in there.”
As a person who often experiences names, assignment explanations and other vital information as entering one ear and passing discreetly out the other, I appreciated her helpful sentiment. I find myself wishing that this was slightly more of an empirical method. I’m sure my father who frequently receives the brunt of my ADD in our scattered conversations wishes the same. Alas, here we are.
Arriving at our final quote for today, I give you:
“I call myself the black rhino because my hair is a weapon.”
After relaying this rushed thought, Kabi assumed the position of a fierce rhinoceros and charged at the boys who had taken her hula hoop. This woman is our intersectional feminist icon and I regard her as nothing less.
May we all see children as our greatest philosophers and voices of simultaneous reason and chaotic imagination.
Contact Malia Mendez at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.