Kalisha has been asking questions of people since she learned to talk. I always said she asked the questions we adults wanted to ask, but were too polite to do so.
When she was young, I would steer her away from aisles in the grocery or Walmart if I saw someone who was vertically challenged or in a wheelchair or an amputee ... you get the idea. It sometimes took a long time to get groceries if we had to keep skipping aisles. She never meant her questions to be mean or rude. She truly wanted to know things like, "Were you born without a leg?" or "Have you always had to be in a wheelchair?"
I could usually steer her away from people I thought would be offended, but occasionally, she would get past me. I was talking to a woman I knew when Kalisha asked her if she believed in God. (I'm not sure what brought that up) The woman said, "Yes, I do."
Kalisha then asked if she went to church. "No, I don't usually," the woman replied.
"Why not?" Kalisha asked. "If you believe in God, you should go to church."
"You're right, Kalisha. I probably should."
It was time for me and my little evangelist to move on. It was OK that she was concerned; she just took me by surprise. I didn't see that coming.
When she was 6, we were invited to display our goat milk cheese at a Wine and Cheese Festival at a prestigious winery in the Napa Valley in California. While her father and I answered guests' questions about the cheese, Kalisha asked her own questions of the guests. "Do you live here?" "Do you like wine?" "What color is your house?" One gentleman told me, "I believe your daughter will work for the CIA when she grows up."
On the advice of a teacher, we developed a system of three questions; she could only ask three questions of someone. When I would surreptitiously hold up three fingers, she knew she had reached her limit.
She has, of course, gotten much better with social graces as she grew older and more mature. Having said that, I still try to head off inappropriate questions at times. Last week, we took dinner to a friend who had recently had her leg amputated. Before we got out of the car, I said, "Remember, no questions about her operation unless she is talking about it, OK?" She did very well.
Occasionally, she says things as a joke, but because she doesn't have a lot of facial expressions, it is hard to always tell when she is teasing. And even though I know her so well, sometimes she throws me for a loop, too.
This morning before church, a good friend was talking to both of us.
Kalisha asked her, "Where's Dave?" (her husband).
Diane laughingly said, "He'll be here. He just dropped me off and is parking the car. He always tells me he will be back in an hour, like a chauffeur."
With no smile on her face at all, Kalisha said, "I hope he doesn't find another woman in that hour."
Although Diane was laughing hysterically, I was looking at Kalisha like she had just landed from another planet.
"What on earth made you say that?" I asked, laughing also.
"I was just teasing," she said.
I didn't see that coming, but it was OK. Everyone knows Kalisha pretty well and isn't too surprised when she asks or says something out of left field. It's when we are with strangers or people we are meeting for the first time that I get a little nervous. But I have learned over the years to roll with it. What else can a person do?