Friday, March 13, 2015

Helping Kids Figure Out Popular Proverbs and Idioms

I had a lot of children write to me asking to help them understand some common sayings that they have heard but don't understand. Here are my explanations!

"Andrew, how come people say, 'practice makes perfect,' what if I'm really bad at something? I don't seem to get any better even with a lot of practice." -Timmy G.

Well Timmy, that's because "practice DOESN'T make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." If you're lousy at something, and it sounds as if you clearly are, then practicing at it won't help you, you'll just get worse and worse because you already suck! So, if you're really bad at something, just give up and stop trying!

"I once heard someone say, 'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.' Why would anyone live in a glass house?"   -Daniel T.

First of all, a glass house is called a green house Daniel and second of all nobody lives in green houses. It would make more sense though if we said, "People that live in stone houses shouldn't throw glass." Is that actually what you meant? I think that's what you meant to say.

"What exactly is a gift horse, as in, Never look a gift horse in the mouth?" -Sarah S.

A gift horse, Sarah, is a horse that one receives as a gift, obviously. The reason why you should never look one in the mouth is because one time I did, and all I saw was a human face looking back at me because it wasn't a real horse. It was just one of those two person horse costumes.

"If a penny saved is a penny earned. What happens if you stole the penny in the first place?" -Bobby F.

A penny stolen is also a penny earned, and if you save that penny then you get two cents out of it instead of just one. This is why so many people try to steal money, because it's the easiest way to make money.

"Andrew, I have heard that, 'Good things come to those who wait.' But I also heard Alexander the Great used to say, 'Fortune favors the bold.' They contradict each other, which one should I believe?" -Eli M.

Good question but a better question is, who said, "Good things come to those who wait." I don't know and neither does anybody else but the other one was said by a guy that they called, "The Great," pretty sure you have your answer.

"I feel that I can lead a  horse to water AND make him drink. What do you think? -Seth R.

No Seth, you can't. If you think you'll just hold the horse's head under water until he drinks after you've led him to it, well think again. He will just refuse and end up drowning. Plus to make matters worse you'll then find out it was just two people in a two person horse costume and you've committed murder.

"Slow and steady wins the race," is something my mom told me but I find that to be a pretty stupid race strategy. Does this apply to races that are sprints??" -Ryan N.

That's because you're smart and she isn't. Slow and steady never won any race, ever. Not even in the fable, The Tortoise And The Hare. That isn't a true story, it would have never happened that way, there is no way a hare loses to nature's D student. The hare won but only lost on a technicality. The race itself was only a formality as we already know the hare would win 100 times out of 100 races. The saying should be, "The fastest wins the race."

"I keep noticing when I do something my dad smiles and states, 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.' Andrew, what apple, what tree??? I am so confused." -Henry S.

Evidently your father never knew of an apple tree growing on a steep hill...or on the edge of a cliff...or close to a river....or with a cart under it. The truth is Henry, your father isn't talking about apples or trees. He's essentially comparing apples to oranges when he compares you to an apple.

"I have a crazy friend that says the grass is always greener on the other side. Our neighbor has really  ugly-looking dead brown grass, so is my friend crazy?" -Billy D.

Not crazy Billy, just color blind. If he thinks the grass is greener when it clearly is brown, then don't call him crazy, that would be rude because he has what some doctors call, "male pattern color blindness." It's natures way of ensuring fights between neighbors. You really think your neighbor wants his grass looking all ugly, dead, and brown?? Of course not! He honestly thinks it's greener than yours but hey, he doesn't even know what green looks like! Your crazy friend and your neighbor are both color blind, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

"Dear Andrew, My father tells me to stop beating a dead horse. I didn't even know we owned a horse and now I find out it's dead?!?! To know my parents think I would ever beat a horse, dead OR alive, is just insulting! I keep bringing this up to them and I have, over and over and over and over again, but they just won't explain it to me!" -Patrick K.

Clearly your parents are hiding something from you Patrick. My best advice to you would be to continue to ask them and never let up! Don't let this subject die like that horse you beat to death. Be persistent and you'll get your answer!  I wonder what the secret they're keeping from you could be? The horse you killed was probably just two people in one of those two person horse costumes and they are trying to cover up the murder.

"Hey Andrew, I was told that, 'When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.' but life never handed me anything so when will this happen to me?" -Alice F.

Who cares about lemonade? What you want is for life to hand you an alligator so you can make Gatorade! Usually life doesn't hand you an alligator as much as it just throws it at you but if you ever make Gatorade I hope you share it with me!

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