Article Date: 12/1/2010

The Other Reindeer
lessons learned

The Other Reindeer

Around the holidays, kids say the darndest mondegreens.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

Sarah, how many reindeer does Santa have?” asked the k indergarten teacher.

“Two,” replied Gina. “Rudolph and Olive.”

“Olive?” said the befuddled teacher.

“Yes, ma'am. In the song about Rudolph, it says, ‘Olive’ the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.”

Which illustrates that, with their limited experiential background, children often misinterpret words and phrases. Therefore, we must make certain that they understand what we're saying.

Mondegreens

A few years ago I wrote about Mondegreens, defined as the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase. They most commonly occur with children. Many interesting child Mondegreens have been reported from all over the country. Some of these involve childrens’ misunderstanding the lyrics in Christmas music:

“The cattle are lonely” (The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes)
“Barney's the King of Israel” (Born is the King of Israel)
“Let men their sins enjoy” (Let men their songs employ)
“While shepherds washed their socks by night” (While shepherds watched their flocks by night.)
“Sleep in Heavenly peas” (Sleep in Heavenly peace).

What kind of dust?

Religious services are another source of misunderstandings:

“Without you, we are but dust!” thundered the preacher in his sermon.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

“Momma,” whispered a small child in the congregation to his mother, “what is ‘butt dust’?”

“The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt,” recited the kindergarten Sunday School teacher.

“What happened to the flea?” asked little Johnnie.

Looks like

This also happens with childrens’ visualization of biblical characters. In a Sunday School class of small children, they had been asked to draw a picture of someone from the Bible.

“Who is that?” the teacher asked one child who had drawn a picture of a fat person.

“Round John Virgin,” replied the child.

Another child had drawn a picture of an airplane and a man. When asked what person that was, he said, “Pontius, the pilot.”

Another drew a picture of a bear. When questioned she said it was a picture of Gladly, the crosseyed bear (cross I'd bear).

Five or six?

In communicating with children, we also must also remember that they resent condescension, and being babied or treated as younger than they are. Ask a five year old if he's six, and he'll love you forever. Ask a six year old if he's five, and he'll hate your guts. An example of the resentment of condescension:

“What color is this?” a grandmother asked her four year old granddaughter.

“Yellow,” she replied.

“Good. And what color is this?” she asked pointing to another color.

“Grandma,” she said with exasperation. “It looks to me like you could learn all the colors yourself, instead of having to always ask me!” OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2010