ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Elephants in the Kitchen and other Stories from Children

Updated on December 8, 2008

I was the neighborhood babysitter ever since I was old enough to watch the other kids. I had a playhouse, art supplies, legos, My Little Ponies, blocks, and a basketball hoop, essentially everything any kid could want to play with. The families all knew my family, a plus for being the third generation to live there, so safety was never an issue. Sometimes, however, there were odd questions that came up.

One new family was assured that I was a great babysitter, and promptly started having their two daughters hang out at my house. I was a teenager then. My mom got a call from the girls' mom a week after they first started coming over. The mom had one question for her, "What is this about elephants in your kitchen?" It turns out, one of the girls was quite concerned that we had a picture of a recent trip to Wildlife Safari on the counter, showing me riding an elephant! After that was explained, and the mom was told we also had a deer hanging on the wall (another photo) and cats in the cabinet (my mug collection), she was convinced that we were a little nutty, but good people. She never worried about us again, and to this day her daughters and I are still great friends.

As an adult, I still find myself entertaining the neighborhood children. Part of it is that I'm still a bit nutty, and kids always find that a bonus when a grownup can share in their silliness and imagination. Part of it is because I am a teacher, and parents know that I know how to take care of kids. Part of it is that mysterious thread that holds all of us together, somehow putting the right people in situations to enrich all of society. So, here are a few more stories from my adult life with children.

After I moved into an apartment, my neighbors quickly found out that I was an artist. I would frequently put the card table up outside, take my rubber stamps and paper, and set up making cards. Of course, this was an immediate attraction for the children, who would come over while playing, sit down, and say, "What'cha doing?" I'd send them running back to get their parents' permission to be there, then show them how to make their own cards and printed paper. Sometimes I would have one visitor, sometimes five or six.

If I wasn't out and the kids wanted to play or do art, they would knock on my door. If I wasn't available, there was a notepad to write a message for me, or draw a note. When I answered the door, even if I was busy, I'd often let them take the art supplies outside by themselves (provided their parents had said it was alright to have them come inside).

Once inside my house, however, they found other things to play with! Preschool teachers and artists collect a lot of fun "junk", and it doesn't take long for kids to realize that. They found puppets, books, legos, stuffed animals, and (a perennial favorite) my childhood My Little Pony collection. I have one rule about the stuff they can play with: keep it on a blanket or table. Neat sheets come in very handy, so the kids have a defined play area that also keeps the toys clean no matter what the weather conditions (unless it's raining).

One of the parents became suspicious of the toys her children were playing with, and came over to investigate. She took one look and joined in, telling me "They said they were playing art and dressing up ponies, and I just had to see what they were actually doing!" Every so often, she would come borrow a toy or two for home, if one of the kids was sick or just needed something else to play with.

Every so often, I nanny for families outside my neighborhood, especially in the summer. I ride the bus, and taking children on public transportation is always a bit of a challenge but a rewarding learning experience for them. At three years old, one of my nanny charges with developmental delays was just learning how to talk. After his first field trip, he happily told his mom, "B! B, Mac, Nene (he couldn't say my name properly) B owl! Arooooo, yip, yip, yip, boat!"

She looked at me, completely baffled. I translated, "We went on the bus and the MAX (light rail) to the World Forestry Center, and got our pictures taken on a raft there." The little boy nodded happily and showed her the picture. The forestry center was, from that day on, christened "the owl", because of a hooting owl when you first walk in. It also has a coyote sound, which accounted for the "aroooo, yip, yip, yip".

Carbon wearing my sandals
Carbon wearing my sandals
Rori with her favorite shoes
Rori with her favorite shoes
Spooky with slippers and shoes
Spooky with slippers and shoes

Another time, that same little boy's cat got outside and got pregnant. The day before she had kittens, I was telling the boy how to be nice to the babies when they came. I described how to pet them carefully, and never pick them up. I explained that they needed to be warm, and be with their mom kitty in a nice, warm place. He'd already been over to my house, and played with my four cats, so he knew how cats behaved, but I didn't want him getting scratched or trying to play with the kittens right away. I went to make lunch, and he went to play with toys (or so I thought). Suddenly, there he was at my side, wanting me to come look at something he'd built for the mama cat. He led me over to a pile of pillows, blankets, and shoes: a "nest" for the cat and kittens where they would be nice and warm! I told him that it was a good, warm nest, and listened as he told me that the blankets would be cozy for them to curl up in, and the pillows would be soft. I then asked, "But what about the shoes?" He said, smiling, "Because kitties like shoes."

True enough, because he'd watched my cats play with my shoes like toys! One of my cats puts his paws in my sandals and "wears" them. Two others use them as chewing and kicking toys. Little did I know that he had noticed that!

I recently got married, which was a subject of great wonder for my students. They all had questions for me, such as where I was going to live, what would happen to my cats, and what I was going to wear. One little girl, about four years old, had a really perceptive question: "Are you still going to be Miss Karen?" She'd obviously heard that women who got married changed their name, and wanted to be sure what to call me. I explained that some people change their last name, but my first name wasn't changing, and told her I would be "Mrs. Karen" now. That change made sense to her.

I know there will be other stories in the future, so long as I'm around children. They always have a great perspective of the world, and it's so refreshing for us adults. It keeps us from becoming too jaded, when we hear what kids have to say.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      9 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      This was fun to read. My niece has been talking of Elephants in the kitchen, but she has been eating them! "I do bite the elephant's bottom."

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      What can come out of a kid's mouth!!! :) We need to take the lead from them on keeping our imagination.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      10 years ago

      You sure have a way with kids! Makes great reading. :)

    • Nayberry profile image


      10 years ago from

      I love this! I have children, and I know that your house would have been a source of great wonder to them.



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)