Car Talk with T-Man

As it happens, car time is the best time to chat with my child, either about nothing in particular, or about everything and anything you could remotely imagine.

On a 13-minute drive this particular morning, here were today’s topics, brought to me by T:

“So when we put food in our mouths, it makes us grow then turns into energy and poop – right?” Yes, yes it does, T. I guess I could have stopped there, but why would I? And thanks to a nice 101 refresher course in physiology from – of all places – a They Might Be Giants song called “The Bloodmobile”  (that we listen to at least a few times a week), I actually had a nice two- to three-minute answer nicely summed up. I explained to T how when we eat, we first chew our food then swallow it, and from there it goes down the esophagus (food tube) to the stomach for digestion, or the body’s process that removes vitamins and nutrients from the foods we eat. I then told him that this is when the body sends those nutrients and vitamins from the digestive tract into our bloodstream where it’s then distributed to the different body parts to help it function and grow. I finally explained that any part of our food that can’t be used to help us grow or give us energy turns into waste – poop and pee – through our intestines, colon, and bladder. I threw in a few bonus answers after that to help drive the point home: “So that’s why we need to eat a little of everything at every meal so our body can have a good balance of things to help it grow;” and finished up with, “And that’s why we don’t eat a lot of things that can’t help our bodies like candy, sweets, or juices.” Not too bad for just having downed my first cup of coffee for the day!

(with “Cars” Songs and Story CD playing in the background) “Why does Sheriff shoot at Lightning McQueen? And why does Mac have mad on his face?” Ah, a two-parter! But I’m more than prepared, so I fire back. First, I tell T again – for probably at least the 76th time – that Sheriff isn’t shooting at Lightning but that his car is older and did something called a backfire where exhaust puffs out so fast it makes a loud noise that sounds a lot like an explosion, firework noise, or, yep, even a gun shot. I further explained that some backfires can blow out smoke or even sparks that might seem scary but again it’s just something that happens in older car engines and exhaust systems. I tell T that is why Lightning asks why Sheriff’s shooting at him even when he isn’t; T always seems to forget that last part though. Again, he seems satisfied… until he needs to re-ask again later for the 77th time, that is.

I next move on to answer the Mac question. I explain that as T might remember from the movie, Mac isn’t the happiest or friendliest car as he’d had a lot of bad things happen in his life. For one, he crashed in his own big race years before and it left him angry and frustrated; now Mac sees Lightning going through some of the same things he did himself, and it’s bringing up some of those bad memories. Mac didn’t deal with his problems the best he could nor did he ever ask his friends for help – much like Lightning – and that’s why he has mad on his face and why he speaks mad, too. I also compared it to how Lightning told Sally he felt something was missing even though he was a superstar racecar – until Lightning made friends with his new Radiator Springs pals, that is. I then reminded T that as the story went on Mac and Lightning became closer and better friends and in the end Mac even helped Lightning with his own big race and the mad on his face went away. I summed this all up with a moral of “so helping your friends through their own rough time can help you work through your own frustrations, too.”

(As we turned the corner and pulled up at school) “So did I get extra balloons with my new boat toy?” Yes, yes you did, T, and they are safely put away for when you need to replace the one you have on there now.

And with that, the drive was over… I pulled up to school, turned off the car, and walked T inside. A little science/ physiology, a little psychology/ sociology, and some new birthday toy logistics covered in 13 minutes… I’d say we definitely made the most of our drive time to drive a lot of points home. AKA: Car-schooling.

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