Saturday, January 9, 2010

The old switcheroo

"Why can't we have a sticker on our car?"

Ulysses eyed the shiny row of well-scrubbed clunkers, lemons and rust buckets facing the highway as we drove by. Each sported a garish set of four digits in the top portion of the passenger side of its windshield. These numbers, I surmised, were the "stickers" U coveted.

"Those cars have stickers! Why can't we have a sticker, too? Those cars all have stickers. I want a sticker on our car."

"That's a car store. Those stickers show how much money you have to pay to buy one of those cars," I explained. "If we put a sticker in our window, then somebody could come and give us that much money, and then they would take the car, and then we wouldn't have it."

Ulysses answered quickly -- more quickly than I expected -- "We could take that money and go buy back our green car."

He was referring to the Dodge Caravan we traded in last March. We were lucky to get it while it was working to a dealer who would take it despite its quirks. We were also lucky U didn't seem traumatized by its loss, what with its being his favorite color and all. This was the first time in nearly a year that he'd mentioned it.

So this mention of the green minivan caught me by surprise. I had meant to quell the sticker campaign, but he had taken it in a new direction.

I paused, thinking how to respond.

"We don't know where that green car is," I tried.

"We can put a sticker on the gold car, and then somebody will buy the gold car, and then we can take that money and go buy back the green car."

"That green car is gone," I said. "There's no place we could go to get it. There's no way to find it."

"Somebody will give us money for this gold car, and then we can buy back the green car."

I switched to a new rationale. "But without the gold car," I said, "how will be able to go get the green car? Without a car, we won't be able to go to it."

U fell silent. It was the last word on the subject. Until the next day.

Don and I were driving U home from kindergarten. An urgent voice piped up from the second row: "Doald! We have to put a sticker in our car so someone can give us money for it so we can go get our green car back!"

Startled, Donald turned to me for interpretation. I filled him in.

By now Ulysses was pumping up the drama. "Some bad guy came and stool our green car. We need a sticker! We need that money! Doald! We have to go find the green car and get it back!"

"We traded that green car for this one," said Donald, reasonably.

"What?" said Ulysses, catching his breath.

"We made a trade," he repeated. "We traded the green car for the gold one."

"Oooh!" Ulysses crooned. "So it was the old switcheroo!"


  1. Hysterical! Does your son even know how brilliant he is? Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm not sure ... but he seems to be growing into quite a character!