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Laura on Life

A Bird In The Hand
By Laura Snyder
May 2, 2012 - 6:00:46 AM

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Sometimes I have a brain malfunction. It's something about my wiring that makes me stop in the middle of a sentence and forget what I was saying. Perhaps I am a bit ADOS (AD Oh, Shiny!) That would be a typical diagnosis for someone who forgets her children's names and leaves a pot of hard-boiled eggs on the stove so long that they explode. That's normal... isn't it?

What's not normal is what my son has. There is no name for his condition. He also stops in the middle of a sentence, which most often is not an original thought. He then forgets the rest of it and makes something up; also not an original thought.

If I give him a choice of two things, he's pretty flexible: "Whatever floats your... cup of tea."

If I catch him doing something out of character, he shrugs and says, "When in Rome... let them eat cake."

Wait a minute. They ate cake -- or didn't, as the case may be -- in France, not Rome. However, if I brought this fact to his attention, he would say, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't lead a horse to water."

"Um... Okay, then." Sometimes, he goes into a "stick phase" and doesn't come out of it for weeks. I would hear such nonsense as:

"A bird in the hand is more than you can shake a stick at.

Or, "Do unto others, and carry a big stick."

Or, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't carry big sticks."

Or, the worst one, "The way to a man's heart is..." I'd better leave that one to your imagination.

I was never so glad as when the stick phase was over. It's one thing for someone to butcher cliches all day, and another to butcher cliches by themes... for weeks!

The "chicken" theme was only a few days. There isn't much you can do with a chicken, but it still drove me to the brink.

"Absence makes your chickens hatch."

"Two wrongs don't make a chicken."

He branched out quickly to other barnyard animals. I love this young man in spite of his peculiarities. I told him that he was turning into a handsome young man. He replied, "Beauty is in the eye of a bull in a china shop."

Wait. I think that makes me a bull... or a china shop... not sure. Obviously, I was between a rock and a mole hill.

It became maddening when I needed to have a serious conversation with him about his grades.

"One bad apple doesn't fall far from the tree," he said.

I was insulted... I think. Again, I wasn't sure, so I ignored it.

"Honey, you have to work harder if you intend to get into a decent college."

"All work and no play is the mother of invention," he answered blithely.

I ran that through my sloppy drive and decided that he was right! "Exactly!" I said, pleased.

"What? Huh?" He seemed confused. "Did I just make sense?"

"Yes, you did, but you don't get credit for it if you didn't know you were making sense."

"Oh... good... because a penny saved gathers no moss."

"Oh for Pete's sake!"

My husband has the affliction, too, but only selectively. He was watching a baseball game and was disgusted with the pitcher. I happened to walk into the room at the same time he said, "He couldn't hit the broad side of a..." he forgot what he was going to say and looking me straight in the eye, he finished,"...broad." I frowned and said, "This might be a good time to make your chickens hatch."

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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