Faye Lippitt is a Canadian journalist living in Grand Cayman with her husband Greg. Together they raised six children in eight years, four of which arrived in pairs. To keep her head above water, Faye began writing about the crazy things the children would say and do, and these became the source of her book, “Sixteen Chickens on a Trampoline.” Excerpts are printed on a regular basis in The Cayman Reporter.
Driving in our old blue van one day with the three youngest children on board, I was jerked from my easy radio listening by our son Stanley who suddenly asked,
“Mom, what am I?”
Now there are times when questions posed and answers given can make an indelible effect on the direction one pursues in life. I considered how to pose a simple response to such a deep philosophical question, and chased around such replies as ‘you are a child of God’, or ‘you are dad’s and my love just all wrapped up together’, but finally, tangled by my own metaphysical pondering, answered with firm authority, “You’re a boy Stanley”.
“No no” he replied, “I mean what kind of animal am I?”
This reply had me even more confused and concerned than
before. Had I missed something essential in their upbringing? Stanley continued, “You know, like a fish or something.”
“Ah!” Suddenly it was a little clearer what he meant, though I was a bit surprised that a seven year old considered these things. One could only imagine what he and his school buddies talked about. “Do you mean Zodiac? What sign were you born under?”
“Ya. So what am I?”
“Ya”, chorused his brother Eddie from the seat next to him. “What are we?”
“Well, you are Aries” I said carefully, anticipating the next question before it arrived.
“What’s an Aries?”
“An Aries is a ram”
A little silence ensued, and then Stanley said, “What’s a ram?”
Before I could respond, Eddie perked up and answered
“I know! It’s a sheep!”
I congratulated Eddie on his advanced vocabulary and left the two of them to figure out just what it might mean to be a sheep. Since I had no idea of what the ram represented, I thought it better just to remain silent and hope that my cryptic response was accepted as what, to a seven year old, must be yet another of life’s baffling mysteries.
It took less than a minute before the small voice of their five-year-old sister could be heard.
“So what am I?”
I was worried that she might ask this.
“Well, you’re a Virgo, Elly”
This time it was a chorus from all three.
“What’s a Virgo?”
“It’s a virgin” I said, looking at them all levelly through the rear view mirror.
“What’s a virgin?”
Before I could even begin to wrestle with the pros and cons of having this conversation in a rolling vehicle in the middle of traffic, Eddie’ arm shot up and he proudly said,
I looked at him blankly, but had little time to either wonder or worry before he continued.
“Can’t eat meat!
Greg has been trying for some time now to teach Charles and Jane to blow their noses. Theefforts have proven futile: they just don’t want to part with the stuff.
After a quick stop at the drive-through for a snack on Saturday, Greg was driving while the kids were happily slurping on their ice cream cones. Jane, finishing first, bit the end off her cone
and sucked – noisily sucked – her ice cream out of the end of the cone. Greg, hearing the honk,brightened considerably and, dodging traffic said, “Good blow Jane! I knew you could do it!”