Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Drive Home from Preschool: Conversations with a Three Year-Old

The Drive Home from Preschool: Conversations with a Three Year-Old
Ali Sullivan

Mom, I broke chewy.

You what?


How can you break chewy?

It was a stick and I broke cheww-ly.

Honey, I don’t understand. It was a stick and you broke it?

It was a country.

A stick country?

In South America. The continent.

The proverbial light bulb. On.

You broke Chile?

Yeah. It was a stick. So I broke it. Cheee-lay.

Was it a puzzle?

Yeah, Jen was sad. She glued it. Someone broke the snack bowl.

How did the puzzle break? How did you break it?

With my head.

Your head?


So, you broke Chile with your head? And Jen was sad?

She just was.

So, what did you say to Jen?

Silence from the car seat.

Maybe we should write a note to say sorry.

I will use a pen.


I spilled my bean work and Bella helped me clean it up.

Oh, that was nice of her.

Yeah it was.

Did you thank her for doing such a nice thing?



Well, next time she helps me I will say thank you.

Oh, that’s a good idea.

He wants to change the subject.

I got five stickers on my chart so you got me a milkshake.

That’s right.

There was a dinosaur on the cup.

You bet there was.

Is that truck working?

I think it is. It looks like it.

What is it making?

Maybe a new road.

Cars can go on it. And trucks.

I want to change it back.

You bet. So what else happened at school today?

Um... I passed out the napkins.

For snack?

Yes, but I didn’t want any apples.

Well I know you don’t like apples. What else did you have?

There were crackers and I ate some.

Did you sing a song today?

Well, yes. I did.

How does it go?

OOOOOOOhhhhh, the earth is good to me, so I thank the earth for giving me the sun, the rain, and the apple tree, the earth is good to me.

Very nice.

But I don’t eat apples.

I know. Do you know where some apples come from?

A tree!

Well, yes they do. Do you know where some apple trees are?

There aren’t any at our house.

No, but there are apple trees in South America.

Oh, we have Souf Mereka in our classroom!

There’s a very long and narrow country in South America where apples grow.

Yes, some do grow in Argentina, but I’m thinking of a country that might look like a stick on a map.



I broke Chee-lay.

I know.

A few days later, we run some errands.

We’re going to the bank.

The one with the bumps?

Our bank was built to look like a log cabin, a bumpy one.


Will she have candy for me?

Oh, I don’t know.

Oooooh, maybe it will be a Nemo sticker!

I remember last time you got Bruce the shark.

He’s scary.

Well, he’s a shark.

Maybe it will be Spider-man!

It could be.

Or Butt Man!


Butt Man.

Who is Butt Man?

He was the spooky one at Halloween. He had white triangle teeth.

Why is he Butt Man?

He just is.

Do you know what a butt is?

A silent smile.

It’s your bottom.

A laugh.

I didn’t know that my bottom was a butt! Butt, butt, butt!

Some people call it a butt.

I didn’t know that. Will we go in the bank?

I’m still confused about Butt Man, but I’ll let it go.

No, baby’s sleeping so I think we’ll drive through.

And the yellow thing will go WHOOOOOOSHHHHHH!

Yup, I can send her things in a tube under the ground.

And she will give me candy.


For over five minutes, he sits like a statue listening to the business of monetary transactions. Sometimes I worry about his fascination with pennies.

Do you have the boys with you today?

Yes, I do.

Would they like some stickers?

Oh, I think they would. Thank you.


Oh, look, Shrek stickers!

Ooooooh, it’s Donkey and, um, oh, Puss in Boots!

You can have them both since stickers aren’t really for babies.

I can peel the paper off.

Go for it.

Quiet concentration, a minute of actually hearing the radio. I did not glance behind me once.

I have stickers on my nipples!

Now I look.

Yes, yes, you do.

I saw each sticker on his jacket over, what he figured, his nipples. A proud smile.

Nipple stick! Nipple sticker! Nip-nip-nipple stick!

He began to sing. The baby woke up.

Nip-nip-nippy-nip-nip (waaaaa--waaaaaaa, ear-piercing scream, waaaaa-waaaaaaa)

Nipply-nip-nip, nipple stick!

Okay, kid-o, that’s enough singing.

Nipple stickers. Is it funny? (waaaaaaaa-waaaaaaaa)

Yeah, it is. We’ll have to tell Daddy.

Does Daddy have nipples?

Yes. (waaaaaaa-waaaaaaaa, burp, waaaaaaaa)

No milk, though.

You’re right. Only mommies have milk for the babies.

And cows.

Yes, cows give us milk. (waaaa---mumma, mumma)

And pigs.

Well, mommy pigs only have milk for baby pigs. It’d be hard to milk a pig.

Pigs are mammals.

Yes they are. (hysterical baby giggles)

Hey, baby! Did you wake up you little nipple baby! Hee-hee-hee.

Another day, another emergency.

Hey, Honey, how was your day at school?

Hmmmmm.... good

What did you do?

I did cracker spreading work.


And, aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh, some cutting, I think.

You’re not sure.

No, but I usually do cutting so I probably did.


Anything else happen?

I painted my belly.

You painted your belly?

Yeah, and some got on my pants.

Why did you paint your belly?

I just did.

Isn’t that messy? I thought paint was for paper.

Well, yeah, but I just did it.

Did you clean it up?

Yes I did. Jen told me that’s it’s not a good decision.

I agree with her.

It was a silly thing to do, wasn’t it?

Yes it was, mister. I hope tomorrow you will paint only on the paper.

Okay, I will.

There, lesson learned. Check that one off: He will not need to paint on his belly again as he already knows what it feels like. Feeling content, I enjoy the quiet from the back. I begin to suspect something is wrong, as quiet doesn’t last long. He starts to make guttural noises, grunts like he’s holding his breath for too long. A backward glance at the traffic light is all I need to see.

Honey, we’re almost home. You can go potty as soon as we get there.

Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh, I goooottttttaaaaa gooooooooo pooooooootttttttyyyyyyyy!

I know, sweetie, we’re almost there. Two minutes.



Ooooooohhhhhhh, Ineedtobeinthatgrass.

I, too, look out the side window at a waving meadow of tall brown grass. It is remarkably inviting. I consider pulling off the road and letting him run into the middle, peeing with absolute freedom and complete lack of inhibition.

I know sweetie. You can hold it. I know you can wait, just a little patience, okay?
Uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh, oooooooooooooohhhhhhhhh.

The drama continues for two minutes longer. When our car reaches the driveway, he releases the seat belt from his booster chair - a talent which is convenient, but scary - and races to the back yard. I also jump out and follow behind, leaving the sleeping toddler unaware of our hillbilly ways. I can’t help but laugh when I round the corner and peek through the gate. There’s my boy. Pants at ankles, hands on hips, belly protruding, and a steady stream of urine, observed by the proudest three year-old face ever. Relief and entertainment in one.

I did it!

Good job, kid-o!

I’m proud of him, too. Not long ago, I’d have been washing the booster seat cover from poor bladder-negotiation skills. But, now, he can hold it and I’ve never been more proud.

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