Thursday, May 22, 2008

Backseat conversations

A few years ago Kenny Chesney had a big hit with a song called "I Go Back". If you don't frequent the country stations, it was a song about how certain songs can trigger memories, and take you back to another place and time.

I have plenty of those. Some good, some bad. Some make me feel really really young. Some make me feel impossibly old. Some bring smiles and some bring tears. A few bring forced back sobs.

When Kenny's song was a regular on the airwaves my Middle boy was about six. He had started first grade and was feeling pretty big about himself. As we were driving in the van one day, that song came on the radio.

My Middle boy stopped his chatter and got very quiet. He gazed out the window with that look on his face that said, 'thoughts in process.'

Finally, after the song ended, he came up for air and announced to me, "Mama....if I 'go back' I don't got far to go. I guess I'd have to 'go back' to pre-school!"

I wondered what songs took him 'back' to preschool days.

But in the same way there are words that take me back. Like when I am picking out salad dressings at the grocery store, and look past the Catalina version. I almost always chuckle to myself as my brother's face comes to mind. He and I always used to call it "Cantina" dressing and no one ever knew what we were talking about.

Then yesterday I heard the word 'lady' in a conversation behind me at the track meet. I don't even remember what lady they were talking about.

But suddenly I was back to a day, more than a decade ago, as we drove through town running errands. Daughter was maybe 5, her little brother would have been 4. And little brother had trouble saying his 'l's'.

So they were discussing, in their preschooler ways, the ins and outs of some show they had seen on PBS that morning. Brother was trying to talk about this one woman he had seen and his sister was just not getting it.

Finally he says, very exasperated, "You KNOW!...that yady wit da yong yong yegs!"

Even I had to do a mental double take to figure out what he was saying. Sister had no clue that he had even spoken English.

After repeating it several times, each time a bit more miffed, I helped him out.

"Sweetie, he is talking about the lady with the long long legs."

After giving him a look like he had suddenly grown a new nose, she calmly said, "Oh yeah...her."

There is rarely a day that hearing the word 'lady' doesn't bring those precious preschool words to my ears and a wistful smile to my face.

The joys of having little people riding in the backseat.

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