If you want a fast track to getting an earful of gossip, consider bartending. Or hairdressing. Or even better still: driving a taxi. Something about riding in a car just makes people dish. Does it feel like a mobile confessional? Easier to talk when you don’t have to look anyone in the face? In any event, the car phenomenon seems to be amplified ten-fold for four-year-olds. Strap them into their five-point-restraint car seat and suddenly they will tell you EVERYTHING. More than you ever wanted to know. About things they couldn’t possibly really know. (I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it.)
I suspect that when my four-year old, Jacob, is strapped into his car seat, he has to find a way to channel all the energy that would otherwise be spent jumping between the couch and the love seat, running across the living room screaming (“Try to catch meeeeee!”) or kicking his legs dangerously close to the television (“Donkey kicks, Mommy!). He can’t move around too much, so he begins talking. And asking questions. Insistent. Relentless. Questions. All that energy has to go somewhere. Or maybe four-year-olds just want to know that you’re still paying attention . . . to them, of course.
We were just pulling up to our house a week ago when Jacob dropped this one on me. Out. Of. Nowhere.
Jacob: Mommy, Santa has a gun.
Let me point out: It’s October. Not a reindeer in sight. Santa?
Me: What?? No, honey, I don’t think Santa has a gun.
Jacob: YES. He DOES. I know he does.
Let me also point out: WE’RE JEWISH.
Me: Why would Santa have a gun?
WHY WOULD YOU BE IN A POSITION TO KNOW WHETHER SANTA IS PACKING HEAT?
Jacob: To shoot bad guys, Mommy.
Who knew Santa was such a bad-ass?
A few weeks ago, on the way home from preschool, Jacob suddenly decided to fill me in on his plans for the future.
Jacob: Mommy, when I am a grown up- FIRST THINGS FIRST- I will get a dog.
First things first? Hmm. Wonder where that phrase came from. In any event, I suspect I’ll be hearing a lot of it. But back to Jacob’s plans. First, a dog. And then?
Jacob: Then, I will go for a walk. I will find a house with NONE PEOPLE in it. That will be my house. And there will be a mommy there. I will have two kids.
Hold on. Just so I’m clear. There are “NONE PEOPLE” in the house. But there is a mommy? WHAT SPECIES AM I? Oh hell, never mind. As long as you don’t ask me how to come by the two kids, we’re good.
Over the weekend, I was driving home around dinner time with my husband Dan, Jacob, and our one-year-old, Emma. Maybe Jacob was hungry. Who knows? He opened with this:
Jacob: Mommy, how do you eat dirt?
Jacob (already annoyed): HOW-DO-YOU-EAT-DIRT?
Me: Jacob, we don’t eat dirt.
Jacob: Yes, we DO.
Me: Jacob, have you ever seen anyone eat dirt?
Me: Then why do you think people eat dirt?
Jacob: I know that they do.
Me: Okay, then how?
Dan: Roasted dirt?
Jacob: Yes. You dig a hole, you get the dirt, you roast it and then you eat it.
Me: Would you season it?
Me: Would you add spices?
Jacob: Just salt.
Dan: What about a little olive oil?
Jacob (very annoyed): JUST. SALT.
Every now and then, I turn the tables on Jacob. Driving home after a long day, I park the car in front of our house. Then look over my shoulder at Jacob in the back seat and say:
Me: Jacob. I’M TIRED. I’m just going to lie here for a while and take a nap. Hey, can you bring Emma into the house? Oh, and don’t forget to change her diaper when you get inside. Thanks, honey.
Jacob: NOOOoooooo, Mommy. I’M JUST A KID. I can’t carry Emma into the house. YOU need to do it.
Me: But. I’m. TIRED. Besides, I did it yesterday. It’s your turn.
Jacob: So bring us inside and then take a nap in the living room on the couch.
Me: Jacob, I like the way you think. But I can’t take a nap on the couch.
Jacob: Why not?
Because Emma would climb halfway up the stairs and then fall? Because you would set the house on fire? Because someone would end up using the blue (supposedly-washable-but-not-really) marker to pimp out the furniture … and the walls? No.
Me: Because, Emma will make too much noise and wake me up.
Jacob: I’ll tell her to be quiet.
I must confess that we’ve had this conversation so many times that at this point, that this is how it sometimes goes.
Me: Jacob, I’m TIRED.
Jacob (HUGE eyeroll, Muppet-like hand gesturing): Go inside, take a nap on the couch, I will tell Emma to be quiet.
In case anyone is keeping score, we have had this conversation about 2,015 times. I have not once actually gotten a nap out of the deal. NOT. ONCE. So much for pouring my heart out in the car.