Mr. Montreuil and the Tiny Devils….

I love children. They tell it like it is. Unlike adults, they rarely give their imagination “the bunt sign”, preferring that it swing for the fences when they seek “The Truth” or just want to express their opinion. Today’s column will relive some of the more amusing incidents which I’ve witnessed in this regard….

– I remember my wife of the time questioning our daughter who had apparently violated the Prime Directive in some way. “Why did you do that, Nicole?” “‘Ecause!” she replied. My wife said “‘Because’ isn’t a reason!”. Our daughter retorted triumphantly “‘Ecause is a reason!”. Mind you, this was the same little girl who came to me one day with a black and white photograph of a little girl standing beside a toddler who was sitting in a baby carriage. “Who’s this?” she asked. I said “That’s Aunt Mary.” “Who’s in the baby carriage?” I told her that it was me. She looked at it, looked at me, looked at the picture again, put it down and walked away laughing.

– Once, at the Canadian National Exhibition, I saw a little girl of about 6 walking towards a police officer. She was holding the hand of a smaller boy, who looked quite distraught. Big sister said firmly “Mummy told us to find a policeman if we got lost and we sure as hell were lost!”

– At work I often had children in interviews. As you can imagine, it was sometimes hard to keep a straight face. Interviewing a man who was getting a Social Insurance Number for his young son, I had to get the family name at birth of the mother and the given name of the father, for database record purposes. Having obtained the mother’s family name at birth, I then asked for the father’s given name. Without batting an eye, the little boy interjected “Daddy! D-A-D-D-Y.” (I did use the real given name, however.)

– I had picked up a pom pom from a scarf or a hat and put it on my desk. A woman came in with a little girl, and the little girl asked me what the pom pom was. I told her that I bought it and was told that if I watered it, it would grow into a Furby. She looked at me askance and I could read her mind. (“Only an adult would think that you could grow a Furby!”) I often wonder if she asked her mother if she had believed what I told her about her Employment Insurance claim!

– They used to let us play CDs on our computers, and one day I started playing “Skynyrd’s Innyrds” as a woman sat at my desk with a little girl.  The little girl looked delighted and said “Grandma! ‘Sweet Home Alabama'”! Another time I was checking the claim of a slightly older young woman and while concentrating on the computer screen, out of the corner of my eye I saw her doing the air guitar solo as “Free Bird” played.

– Due to my love of aircraft, I always hung photos at my desk. These were nothing fancy, just taken from calendars. A little boy was quite taken with one once and kept staring at it from 2 feet away. When the interview was finished, I reached over, took it down and gave it to him. It was worth it just to watch his face light up! His father smiled and nodded his thanks.

– One of my survival tactics when interviewing a person with a child was to give the kid a piece of paper and a pencil and invite them to draw. Believe me, interviews went much more peacefully after I started doing that. (Thanks for the great idea, Jan!) So one day this woman comes with a little boy, and I give him the usual stuff. Calm, informative interview finishes, little boy holds up his masterpiece and mother and I agree that it is great! Mom suggests that he give it to “the nice man”. I think she meant me! Little boy rears in indignation and says “I drew it!” in his very best “Let the dumb SOB draw his own picture!’ voice. The mother looked mortified and I was looking everywhere trying not to laugh. When I finally could speak, I told him that that was OK.

– From time to time Lois and I meet my nephew David and his family for brunch. David is one of the smartest people whom I know, as is his wife Lindsey. it is always a pleasure to see them. My great niece Lily is living proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I’m sure that her brother Miles will carry on this tradition.  The last time we got together, Lois was telling Lindsey that her cat CoCo was kind of a rescue cat. Lily was sitting across from me and she looked at me and asked quite seriously “Why did the kitty get arrested?” Never one to stifle inquisitiveness in children, I didn’t laugh when she said that, but rather explained to her what the term “rescue cat” meant. It was hard not to laugh though, with this mental image of an ill-tempered and handcuffed (pawcuffed?) CoCo being put into the back of a police cruiser running through my mind! I later said to David “You two are going to have your hands full when she’s a teenager.” He replied that they were already!

– Finally here is my “Roll Up The Rim” adventure. I ordered my tea and the young (and aren’t they all now?) man asked if I wanted anything else. My puckish sense of humour came to the fore and I asked if he could ensure that I won a car, as I was tired and didn’t want to have to walk home. He excitedly explained that the winning entry would have to be verified by Head Office and it would be some time before I actually got the car. I was biting my tongue to keep from laughing, took my tea, sat and consumed it, now free to chuckle merrily.

– It is, of course, entirely feasible however that when he was hanging with his pals that evening, he said “Some old fool came in today and thought that if he won a car, it would be awarded on the spot!”

See you soon.


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