March 2, 2011

Lessons From a Four Year Old

Kids say the darnedest things.  Art Linkletter knew it, and, years later, Bill Cosby followed up with an updated version of the same amusing and charming television show.  The truth is kids do say things that make you stop and think or chuckle.

Last week, my four-year-old granddaughter spent several days with us.  I had to laugh when she walked through my bedroom, glanced at the skirt I was deciding whether or not to wear, and said, "That's cute."  She sailed right on out the door.  Where did she get that from?  FYI, the skirt is cute, but I didn't wear it.

But the funniest thing she said came during bathtime.  Every time she takes a bath at our house, she likes to pretend she's a coffee shop barista.  One night last week, it went like this:

Victoria:  What drink would you like?
Me:  Grande vanilla soy chai.
Victoria:  Hmm.  We don't have that.  How about a big apple juice?
Me:  Ok.

She began "mixing" the drink scooping water or soapy foam into the cup. 

Victoria:  It needs lots of sugar may.
Me:  What's sugar may?
Victoria:  I don't know... I work here.

Just before she said that final priceless sentence, I found myself thinking, yep, that's what a lot of employees would say: "Don't know and don't care."  Then, she added that last, perfect jewel.  Wow! Even a four-year-old gets it.

I teach customer service classes to a variety of businesses, and when we discuss our own customer service horror stories, someone usually mentions getting this kind of response.  It's unfortunate, but even in today's business climate, you will find employees who just follow procedure and don't ask questions.  As trainers and employers, we need to make sure the employees know the what and why behind their tasks.

Writers, we can use this tidbit, too.  Our characters sometimes do things that they don't understand.  They just do it, and, as in real life, it often gets them into trouble.  As writers, we must make sure that we know the what and why even if our characters haven't figured it out yet.

Victoria is just four, and I may be biased, but I think my granddaughter is very bright to have picked up on this problem easily enough to integrate it into her play.  Kids don't pull punches, they tell it the way it is.

5 comments:

Carole St-Laurent said...

Funny! When she's ready for the workplace, she'll be beyond her peers!

Bob Strother said...

Attending a Montessori school, my 6-year-old grandson is exposed to a multitude of cultures and ideas. On the way home from school a few weeks ago, he informed us that he was Jewish. We said, "Being Jewish, you won't be able to celebrate Christmas with us."He thought about that for a moment then said, "Okay, I'm half-Jewish. That way I can celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah."

Barbara V. Evers said...

Bob, Don't you love those conversations?

Valerie said...

Your granddaughter is great. I love conversations with my grands--never know where they're going to end up, but usually I'm laughing. I laugh more with them than with most adults.

Phil Arnold said...

Congratlations. You managed to fit writing, corporate training and family into one blog post. That's what I call covering your key words.