Strapping a couple of five-year-old boys down in an enclosed space is as fascinating an experiment as you could hope for. Including the ones I remember fondly from 5th Form Chemistry which ended with the partial loss of eyebrows or the use of a spatula to herd escaped globules of mercury across a graffiti-pocked desktop.
I should perhaps clarify that my friend and I take turns transporting our sons to and from pre-school, so they spend a lot of time sitting in the back of the car together, where one of us has the opportunity to listen to their conversations. We almost never carry out actual experiments on them.
Some days there’s nothing but bickering. When the bickering escalates to squabbling, my approach is to drown it out by turning up the radio. I’m not sure about the neurological effects of trad Irish music at 90 dB, but it might explain some of the subsequent backseat dialogue.
There is the occasional proud moment, usually documented by a #humblebrag on Facebook or Twitter:
- “Five-year-old boys discussed the workings of the internal combustion engine all the way to pre-school. Makes a change from farting noises.”
- “Cian explained the geological timescale today, with reference to dinosaurs and great-grannies.”
- “Boys demonstrating detailed knowledge of the Star Wars universe. Shame George Lucas didn’t make C-3PO fluent in six million forms of picking up dirty socks.”
And some less proud moments, like this morning’s topic of conversation, as related by my friend and co-carpooler: “Animals that have pooped on my dad.”
It reminds me of the trivia game they played on Friends where Monica has 11 categories of towel and Chandler’s TV Guide comes addressed to Miss Chanandler Bong.
Q: Rory, according to Cian, which animals have pooped on his dad?
A: The correct answer is bird and fish. Big sister is not technically an animal, whatever Cian says.
Q: Cian, what is Rory’s talent at pre-school?
A: Farting, correct. And yours is garlic breath, yes.
Q: Rory, what does Cian say is his favourite colour of nail polish?
A: Punk black.
Q: And what is his actual favourite colour of nail polish?
A: Girly pink.
Q: Cian, where is Rory’s preferred place in a group photo?
A: Yes, it’s a trick question. Rory has never been known to willingly participate in group photos.
Heaven help us if they’re still friends at fifteen. Just remind me never to eavesdrop on their conversations.