‘Balloon Boy’ proves Linkletter’s Axiom
Art Linkletter knew, of course
Children are brutally, embarrassingly honest. It’s only when they get a few years under their belt that they learn to lie, cheat and dissemble. That fact formed the basis for Linkletter’s goldmine of vignettes that spanned more than 50 years on radio and television.
Linkletter knew that if you asked a young child something, you would get an honest answer and it might not be the one that Mom or Dad would prefer.
So, from 1945 to 1969 on CBS radio and television, one popular segment of “Art Linkletter’s House Party” was “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” A later version, co-hosted by Bill Cosby, ran from 1996 to 2000.
I remember one youngster who, asked where his mommy and daddy met, chirped: “in a bar.”
Or consider this exchange, preserved on YouTube:
Linkletter: “What does your dad do?”
“He’s a fundraiser.”
“Who does he raise funds for?”
Another little girl, asked for her favorite Bible story, offered the wedding at Cana recounted in John 2:1, where Jesus turned water into wine. Linkletter asked what she thought the story meant.
Her answer: “The more wine you get, the better the wedding.”
I’m sure all parents have similar stories.
When my older two children were little I took them to the movies one Sunday afternoon. I don’t remember what was playing, but we got to the theater late and the picture had already started, though I think it was just some of the shorts and trailers that precede the feature.
Anyway, I found three seats together in the darkened auditorium and we settled in. I was concerned that my daughter, who was 3 or 4 at the time, wouldn’t be able to see over the adult who was sitting in front of her, so I leaned down and whispered, “Can you see OK?”
She turned and fixed me with that look of utter scorn that any father will recognize. It’s the look we always get when we say something stupid.
“NOT WITH THE LIGHTS OFF!” she exclaimed, in a voice loud enough to carry throughout the theater.
The bottom line: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. In other words, don’t ask the question if you’re not prepared for the answer.
That’s advice the fellow from Colorado, the guy who called the television stations to report that a weather balloon had somehow slipped its moorings in his yard with his six-year-old son inside, might have heeded before he asked the boy on live television why he didn’t come down from his hidey-hole in the attic when they called his name.
“You guys said we did this for the show,” the boy answered.
Oops. Kids say the darnedest things.
— John Beal is the retired editor of the Eudora News’ sister publications The Shawnee Dispatch and Bonner Springs Chieftain.