We humans absorb piles of information as we grow from childhood into adulthood. But once in a while, some erroneous detail slips through the cracks of our fact gathering, and we carry childish misperceptions into the grown-up world.
For example, years ago I heard a woman on the radio say she had no idea that unicorns weren’t real until she made a comment at an office party. Her boss (or someone) had just returned from a safari overseas and people were asking him about the incredible animals he had seen. She chimed in and asked if he had spotted any unicorns.
Of course, her coworkers assumed she was joking and laughed loudly, but (unfortunately) she didn’t catch on… and wanted to know what was so funny.
Someone once told me she never understood why her luggage always arrived at the airport after her own arrival. Why wasn’t it already there waiting for her on the baggage carousel if she had dropped it off two hours before her departure?
Eventually, on a cross-country flight, she sat by the window and happened to notice her suitcase being loaded into the bottom of her plane… and finally put it all together.
I have to confess, I’ve carried more than a few childhood inaccuracies all the way into my adult years, but one in particular stands out.
Our two kids were very young when we lived in Atlanta, and at the time, our daughter attended the local neighborhood kindergarten that was connected to a church.
One April evening at the dinner table, she had questions about Easter which her teacher had covered that day at school.
What she really wanted to know was this: How did people way back then spread all these religious messages across the land if they could only walk and talk? No one had cars or phones or computers, she wondered, so how could they possibly communicate and share their beliefs with so many people?
That’s when I said, “Well, don’t forget they had their bicycles.”
My husband immediately cracked up… until he saw the expression on my face.
“You’re not serious?” he asked.
“Um…” I paused and thought about it.
For some reason, I had always pictured bicycles as part of the busy biblical landscape along with crabby donkeys and itchy tunics and noisy outdoor markets.
Perhaps, as a kid, I had seen a playful depiction of the carpenter’s son on a bike that had mistakenly stuck with me?
“…I mean, they had carts with wheels, so maybe they could have had bicycles?”
As soon as I said it, I realized how ridiculous it sounded.
“Bicycles have only been around for a couple hundred years,” Daddy gently explained to the kids, but mostly to me. “They’re complex machines, even though they may look simple.”
“How come Mommy didn’t know that?”
“I think I did (sort of) know that,” I replied and smiled, “but I guess I wished they’d had bicycles. I mean, imagine life without a bicycle?!”
We all agreed that would be worse than riding your crabby donkey in an itchy tunic through the noisy market to school.
And just in case you’re still wondering, rabbits aren’t capable of laying chocolate eggs or — for that matter — any kinds of eggs.