Sometimes, children say things that are nothing short of cute and inspirational, making parents beam with pride.

Other times, parents wish for a well-placed muzzle.

The latter was the case last week.

My son was attending a Cub Scout meeting in a church basement when the den leader asked them to think about bears because they’re “bear Scouts.”

Since the boys already were aware bears hibernated during the winter, she asked what kind of sounds a bear might make.

“Do you think they snore?” she asked. “Have you ever heard someone snoring?”

There were a couple of nods, but mostly silence. I took this to mean the boys were in deep contemplation, or merely waiting for game time, instead.

Apparently, those few moments of quietness were a cue for my son, who announced in a larger-than-life voice, “My dad snores so loud I can hear him in my room. He’s really loud.”

There were a few snickers, followed by several sets of eyes focused on me.

It was as if they thought I might instantly fall into a deep sleep while sitting in a chair, thus proving his statement true.

As I peered at the group, I was reminded of what it might look like to a tiny field mouse as hawks circled overhead.

It was during those same moments, I tried to imagine whether I might easily slither beneath the door simply out of humiliation.

But my son’s statement also got me thinking.

So, the next day, in an effort to learn more about the affliction so I could benefit others, I spent several hours of company time surfing the Internet.

Through that exhaustive research, I learned a number of things — including the name of the little dangly thing in the back of a person’s throat that looks like a tiny speed bag from a gym where really small people trained to be boxers.

Known as the uvula, it sometimes rattles when a person relaxes, causing snoring.

One day that information could come in handy if I’m asked to be a contestant on the game show Jeopardy.

Until then, however, I’ll try to use it in everyday conversation.

“Wow. That hot coffee I just drank scorched my uvula.”

Scientists say the function of sleep is not entirely clear, but they believe rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep is important to solidifying memories.

If that were true, my son must believe I am solidifying memories about an entire pack of wild boars every night.

I learned there are more than 80 sleep disorders, divided into four categories:

• Dyssomnias is a condition when there is insomnia, sleepiness during the day and abnormal sleep-wake timing. This includes sleep apnea.

• Parasomnias is an abnormal behavior around sleep, but without excessive sleepiness or insomnia. This category includes sleepwalking or night terrors.

• Medical-psychiatric sleep disorders are conditions that cause other problems, disrupts or impairs sleep. Examples include anxiety or depression.

• Sleep problems that cannot be clearly separated from normal variation. This category includes pregnancy-associated sleep disorder and sleep hyperhidrosis, or excessive and unexplained sweating during sleep.

Of course, none of those categories seemed to fit the dilemma I faced with a group of 8-year-old Cub Scouts.

Instead, an appropriate diagnosis might be plain, old “embarrassment.”

I’m not sure there’s a cure, but the symptoms include an overwhelming desire to crawl away with any leftover fragments of dignity.

Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan. He can be contacted at