“Out of the mouths of babes” is an expression that people use when kids say something funny, sad or ironic without realizing the wisdom of their words.

“Out of the mouths of babes” is an expression that people use when kids say something funny, sad or ironic without realizing the wisdom of their words.

It’s not to be confused with “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” a 1990s primetime show in which Bill Cosby asked children a series of questions, setting them up to say something “cute” that typically made audiences howl but ultimately lacked substance. Art Linkletter, the show’s executive producer, is credited with pioneering the idea on his 1940s “House Party” radio series.

Sometimes, we adults can learn a thing or two from kids who say things wise beyond their years. Things that make us stop, think and behave responsibly.

Other times, we can be like children and go for what — in hindsight — is the easiest thing in the world: the “cute” factor.

The former is the stuff of life: salt of the earth, hang-your-hat-on, old reliable advice that never goes out of style. The latter is what many corporations and businesses hope sways us: style. You know, the flighty, flash-in-the-pan, always changing, whatever’s “in” thing.

There’s a reason for the expression “out of style.” Unlike its counterpart, style is the stuff of lies. Listen to TV commercials very closely, ladies. You need that anti-aging cream because you’re a wrinkled mess without it. Guys, you can’t possibly land a girl without this deodorant that makes you irresistible to the opposite sex. Oh, and if you are dating someone, assume she’s shallow enough to trade you in for a new dude if you don’t trade that clunker in for a flashier set of wheels. And even if you do that, forget about fun; Friday night’s going to be a snooze fest if you’re not drinking the right kind of beer.

Survival of the fittest — and newest — you see.

Broadcast commercials communicate one message, above all: something’s wrong with you.

This revelation shattered television advertising’s deceptive looking glass when I learned it as a Spring Hill College junior, and I never looked at TV commercials the same way again. (Of course, these days, with time-shifting devices, we can avoid such messages all together, and literally don’t have to look at such ads the same way again.)

This explosive information also informed my purchasing decisions. After all, when you know corporations spend billions of dollars to infiltrate your head with carefully designed messages that make you ache for an item, or its newest version, you often can put your foot down on all the madness and say, “Enough is enough.” Literally!

Notice I said “often.”

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, right? So splurge occasionally. If done in moderation, it’s fine to buy that sparkling diamond for your wife, and it’s OK to trade in an economy vehicle for a luxury sedan — if you’re not in debt and it makes you feel good.

However, that defining moment — deciding whether to budget or live beyond your means or right at your means (which isn’t much better) — separates the wise folks from kids who simply “say the darndest things.” It’s when you invest in the stuff of life or fall for the stuff of lies.

The News Bulletin was encouraged to see that 280 Okaloosa County children are on track toward financially stable lives. (See A1, “Area youth recognized for saving money,” of today’s edition.) These kids, cumulatively, saved more than $20,000 during this year’s “Teaching Children to Save” program, which the University of Florida’s Okaloosa County Extension Office annually presents.

That’s about $72 saved per child.

Did you deliberately save at least $72 this year? (Don’t laugh — there’s a reason why so many mortgages defaulted.) I deliberately save now, but don’t recall caring about contributing to a savings account at 10 years old, the age of Dalton Tenorio, one of the contest’s winners, who’s already budgeting for his future car.

“Out of the mouths of babes,” indeed.

The newspaper selected this story for publication because the program promotes responsibility among our community’s youngest ones, and today’s children will make purchasing decisions that determine whether there’s a recession tomorrow.

They will decide whether they buy all the hype — and buy themselves into the poorhouse — or take the road less traveled.

They will be leaders or followers.

Thomas Boni is the Editor of the Crestview News Bulletin. Email him at tboni@crestviewbulletin.com, tweet him @cnbeditor, or call 682-6524.
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