The Daily Telegraph


An earnest attempt to impart wisdom is not always what is required…


Like any parent, I’m always anxious to satisfy my son’s thirst for knowledge. Unfortunat­ely, though, it can lead to misunderst­andings.

“Dada,” said my son the other day, out of the blue. “What’s ‘ET’ short for?”

“Good question,” I said, encouragin­gly. “It’s short for ‘extra terrestria­l’, meaning ‘alien’. Hence the name of the film. Literally, it means ‘outside earth’. Like how in French, ‘terre’ means ‘earth’ – as in ‘pomme de terre’, apple of the earth, which is what they call a potato. Funny name, isn’t it? But originally I think ‘terre’, or possibly ‘terra’, is from Latin. Hang on, I’ll google it.”

My son stared. “Dada,” he said, “it’s a joke. It’s because he’s only got little legs.”

Still, at least I’m not alone. An old schoolfrie­nd, who’s a nurse, had a similar experience one Christmas.

“Mum,” said her son, “what happens if you eat tinsel?”

“Probably emergency surgery,” she replied briskly, “to prevent obstructio­n in your digestive system.”

Her son looked at her blankly, and then in a small voice said: “You get tinsel-itis.”

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 ??  ?? Spaced out: parents may be misinterpr­eting little ones’ gags
Spaced out: parents may be misinterpr­eting little ones’ gags

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