Conversational Gems: 2012 November 17

Scene: In the car, driving back from the trip to see Santa.

The Boy: What are peds?

Cute Husband: How do you spell it?

The Boy: P-E-D-S

Me: Oh, it’s on a sign. Peds. That’s short for pedestrians.

The Boy: What are pedestrians?

Me: They’re people who walk instead of riding in cars.

The Boy: Why are you supposed to yell at them?

Cute Husband: What?

The Boy: It’s on the sign. Yell to Peds.


Conversational Gems: 2012 May 1

Scene: In the kitchen, at his breakfast table.

Me: Oooooh, C! I have a funny joke for you!

The Boy: What is it?

Me: Why didn’t anyone like to play with the crab?

The Boy: Why?

Me: Because he was shellfish!

The Boy: (deadpanned) That’s not a funny joke, Mommy.

Me: (laughing) Okay.

The Boy: It’s really not. I’m serious.

Me: (serious) Sorry.

The Boy: I’ll tell you a really funny joke.

Me: Okay. Go for it.

The Boy: Knock, knock.

Me: Who’s there?

The Boy: Banana.

Me: Banana who?

The Boy: Banana bun.

Grief and parental instincts in the animal kingdom

I don’t think the parental instinct exists in all creatures. And yes, I think the maternal instinct is more universal among the animal kingdom, but I chanced to witness a glimpse this morning of the parental instinct of Florida Sandhill Cranes.

Florida’s sandhill cranes are a protected species. They aren’t endangered, exactly, but their natural habitat has largely been lost to urban development and sprawl. So that makes them protected, I guess. And their protected status means there’s a hefty fine attached to causing them harm.

A Florida Sandhill Crane family crossing the road near our house, taken April 25, 2012

Anyway, there’s a little family of four that The Boy and I often see in the mornings and occasionally on our way home from school. I love seeing these family units. Not only are the birds so beautiful and incredibly graceful on their long, spindly legs, but you almost always see them in pairs or traveling as a full family unit.

This morning was heartbreaking, though, as I saw two adult cranes standing in the middle of the road. At their feet were the bodies of their two offspring, their little bodies having been crushed just minutes before by an unobservant motorist. When I saw the cranes standing stalwart in the road, I slowed to see if the chicks were only injured; if that was the case, I would have tried to help them. But the chicks just lay there in their own blood, unmoving, while their parents helplessly stood guard.

I’ve heard of mares that birth stillborn foals and faithfully stand watch over their babies, waiting for them to wake up and begin nursing. Sometimes this lasts for hours; sometimes it can be as long as a day. But in every case, the mare needs to go through a mourning period to fully process her loss.

I wondered during my morning commute if the sandhill cranes needed a similar mourning period.  And then I wondered if I would still see them waiting there on my way home this afternoon.

The Boy, thankfully, did not see the chicks this morning; he only saw the adult birds standing in the road. He did, however, hear me gasp and say, “Oh, poor Mommy and Daddy birds!” When he asked what happened, I explained that the two baby birds were hit by a car and that the mommy and daddy birds were watching over them.

“I think the baby birds will be okay,” he assured me.

“I hope so,” I replied.

“You know, Mom,” he said with the knowledgeable confidence only a 5-year-old possesses, “playing in the street is very dangerous. Those baby birds should have stayed on the sidewalk.”

Well, yes, I suppose that’s one way to look at it.

Interview with The Boy – 2012

I conducted this same interview last year and wanted to do it every year at around the same time, but it slipped my mind last month. As a result, the responses below are from The Boy at a newly-turned age 5, not at age 4.

(Interview conducted at approximately 6:04PM. Answers provided by The Boy. Commentary from Eileen follows responses in italics.)

1. What is something mom always says to you?

Go to the car.

True. I say this every day when I pick him up from school.

2. What makes mom happy?

When I use my listening ears.

Smart kid.

3. What makes mom sad?

When I don’t cuddle you.


4. How does your mom make you laugh?

When you say a joke like, “Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Banana bun.”

This was a joke Cousin M came up with when she was about 2. He still finds it funny. Cousin M, of course, does not.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

You cuddled your mom.

Yes, this is true, too.

6. How old is your mom?

I don’t know. A hundred? 34? 38?

Though I may feel like I’m a hundred today as I recover from yesterday’s run, he was much closer with his other answers.

7. How tall is your mom

Stand up. [I stand, and he stands up on the couch and puts his hand on top of my head.] This tall.

I think he cheated on this.

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?

What you were just watching.

For the record, I was watching Psych on the Roku box when he and Cute Husband came home from Epcot. It’s good mindless television that is fun to have on while I’m straightening up the house a bit.

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

Do the laundry.

Yes! I mean, true.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?


He’s so very sweet.

11. What is your mom really good at?

Watching TV. I’m serious.

Hmmm… Hoping for something other than this, but, okay.

12. What is your mom not very good at?

Playing guitar.

True. But, really, neither is he. Yet.

13. What does your mom do for her job?

Be my mommy.

I love this child!

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?

Macaroni and cheese.

This was what I was eating when he and Cute Husband got back from Epcot. Apparently, if I want better responses, I should pick better times to ask the questions.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

As being a nice mom.


16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

Mickey Mouse. I mean, Daisy Duck.

I had to remind him that Mickey Mouse is a boy. Then he changed it to Daisy Duck, who, incidentally, I like much better than Minnie. So he may be on to something.

17. What do you and your mom do together?

Go to the movies.

Really? I’ve taken him out for ice cream and breakfast and he picks the movies?

18. How are you and your mom the same?

By our nose.


19. How are you and your mom different?

From our shirts.

Well, yes, our shirts are different. I supposed that’s one way you could tell us apart.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

Because she cuddles me.


21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

Because he cuddles you.

Apparently, cuddling is important to this little man.

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

To California


23. If you would change one thing about mom, what would it be?

As being a daddy. So you could be a boy.

Oddly, this is the same response (ish) as last year! Hmm…

“Tree, meet Apple.”

There’s a funny Eileen story my father likes to tell me. When I was a little girl, about 3 years old, I desperately wanted to take ballet lessons. My school was offering classes as an elective (for lack of a better word), and I so wanted to be in the class.

“Tell me why I should sign you up for this,” my father demanded.

My reply was simple. “It will give me poise.”

My father agreed to the lessons.

Fast forward a few years (and some decades), and I’m dealing with a precocious child of my own.

A few weeks ago, we were playing the Great Piggy Bank Adventure at Epcot. The Boy and I had just finished the game, and the screen prompted us for information. If we wanted to continue playing the game at home, we could enter an email address. I pressed “No”, but The Boy insisted we press “Yes”.

“We don’t need to play this at home,” I said to him.

“Yes, we do!” he insisted.

I relented. “Fine,” I told him. “I’ll tell you what to type for my email address.”

He shook his head. “No, Mom. I need to put in my email.”

“You don’t have an email address.”

“Why not? I need one!”

“No, baby, you really don’t,” I replied, thinking of the spam that hits my In Box daily. “Why do you think you need one?”

He looked at me earnestly, large brown eyes peering up at me.

Mom,” he said, very matter-of-factly, “I can write sentences, and I can read.”

Why do I try to argue with logic like that?

Ferris Bueller has nothing on this kid

I got a call from The Boy’s teacher today. She didn’t leave a message, but I called her right back.

“Did the front office call you?” she asked.

“No, I just saw that you had called. Is everything okay?”

“No, I don’t think C is feeling well.”

My heart sank. “Oh, no. What happened?”

“Well, after lunch, he asked to go to the bathroom. But when he finished there, he threw up.”

Images of my child vomiting all over himself immediately came to mind, and I told her I would be on my way. After a quick call to Cute Husband and a pop into my boss’s office to let her know I needed to leave early, I was en route to The Boy’s school.

When I arrived, The Boy wasn’t in the front office, where the sick kids usually are kept. I went to his classroom, and he was in the back of the classroom while the other kids were watching Dora the Explorer. Mrs. G explained that she had him put his head down while the other kids had movie time.

“Hey, buddy,” I said gently when I approached him.

He was very mellow. “Hi, Mommy,” he replied.

“How are you doing?”

“I don’t feel so good.”

I picked him up (literally; he wasn’t wearing shoes) and took him outside. Once we left the building, he asked to sit down on the tiny park bench along the walkway. And suddenly, his behavior took a complete 180° turn.

The entire way home, he chatted and sang in the car. Once we got home, he wanted to play, and when I told him in no uncertain terms that he was not to play but needed to rest because he was sick, he pouted and declared, “It’s no fun being sick!”

Yes, that’s kind of the whole idea.

Notable questions

I saw this photo and thought it might be a good idea to jot down some of The Boy’s questions. He may not ask 437 questions a day of me, specifically, but he does ask quite a few questions, and we all may enjoy looking back one day at some of the questions he once asked me as a four-year-old child.

Interestingly enough, it took a few months to cull this list. I carefully observed our interactions and found, perhaps not surprisingly, I ask him just as many questions as (if not more than) he asks of me. Even Ms. M says he doesn’t ask many questions in class; he’s very observant and pays close attention to the questions other kids ask so he doesn’t need to repeat them. Instead, he asks for clarification or additional detail.

This month, his class is talking about (among other things) the Presidents of the United States and the United States themselves. It not only prompted a cute exchange about a potential career in politics, it also prompted quite a few questions this past week:

  • “Mom, was George Washington the president of California?” (No.)
  • “Was he president of Florida?” (No.)
  • “What was he president of?” (The original 13 states.)
  • “What were they?” (I was proud of myself for being able to rattle off 12 straight away, but from my rear view mirror, I could see him shaking his head in disappointment.)
  • “How did he [holding up a picture of John F. Kennedy] die?” (I explained the official story and finished it by saying that’s just one theory and no one really knows.)
  • “Why doesn’t anyone know?” (Because Oswald was shot.)
  • “How did Barack Obama become President?” (I explained the election process.)
  • “So if you get the most votes you can be President?” (Usually, yes.)

I suppose there are worse things to talk about in the car or at the dinner table, but these were my favorite questions. There were a few other discussions centered around the Presidents, like the fact that Grant is on the $50 bill. Of course, that spawned more questions. “Is every president on money? Why isn’t there a $60 bill?”

I almost told him that I recently learned only 3 men who were not Presidents have been featured on US bills (Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Salmon P. Chase, in case you’re curious), but as I really don’t know much about the guy on the $50,000 bill (and can’t tell him off the top of my head whose images are on the other denominations – nor how these people were chosen to be immortalized on money), I decided to keep it to myself.

Sometimes, it’s better to not encourage more questions.

Overheard: 2012 February 4

The Boy: [looking at the different figures available in the Lego Minifigure series 6] And that one is that statue of that lady that hangs out in New York….

Cute Husband: What statue?

The Boy: See, Dad? This one.

Cute Husband: That’s the Statue of Liberty!

The Boy: Oh, yeah. And this is… [continues pointing to the rest of the figures]

Conversational Gems: 2012 January 31

Scece: In the car, driving home from school. The Boy is in the back seat and I am driving.

The Boy: Mom, which President did Daddy shake his hand?

Me: President Obama. He’s the President right now.

The Boy: Oh yeah; I forgot. I was telling Ms. M, but I couldn’t remember.

Me: You know, not many people have been President of the United States.

The Boy: Maybe I’ll be President when I grow up.

Me: Maybe.

The Boy: But I have a lot to learn first.

Me: Yes, you do.

The Boy: And I need to make lots of friends.

Me: That’s also true.

The Boy: [thinking] Will I have to shake a lot of people’s hands?

Me: Yes, most definitely.

The Boy: Even if they’re dirty?

Conversational Gems: Good branding, Dodge!

This morning, Cute Husband and The Boy dropped me off at work. Cute Husband is chaperoning The Boy’s first field trip, so it only made sense for us to carpool in the morning, especially since my friend Theresa is able to drop me off at home.

As we zipped along on the freeway, I could hear The Boy sounding out a word in the back seat. He was quiet, though, so I couldn’t make out what he said until he spoke up.

“Ram!” he exclaimed. “Mom! That truck is called a ram!”

I looked over at the truck next to us, and sure enough, it was a Dodge Ram truck.

“Yes, that’s right!” I replied. “That’s great reading!”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Do you know what a ram is?” Cute Husband asked.

“Yeah,” The Boy replied. “It’s a kind of a pickup truck.”

I bit my lip to stifle a laugh. It wasn’t the answer Cute Husband was hoping for (and, to be truthful, I was trying so hard not to laugh that I didn’t pay much attention to Cute Husband’s explanation of why the truck is called a ram), but The Boy was absolutely right.