We've had an issue lately with Sam bolting out into the street/parking lot and no amount of The Wiggles singing, "Stop at the light, look both ways, look both ways again..." has persuaded him to look out for cars. I have told him that a car will smush him and hurt him so badly that the doctors won't be able to fix him and he'll go away forever and that will make me very sad, but that hasn't driven the point home either.
But on our walk home from preschool today, I saw a nice visual aid I could show him in the middle of the road. It had once been a squirrel, and from the looks of its mangled, and still blood-covered body, it had indeed been smushed beyond all help.
It seemed like a good idea to point out this once-a-squirrel to Sam and show him the kind of "smushed" I was talking about.
So our conversaton went like this:
Me: Sam, look at that squirrel. It ran out in the road without looking for cars and it got hurt so bad it died. That's why I make you stay with mommy when we cross the street. I don't ever want you to get smushed like that.
Sam: It didn't listen to its mommy?
Me: No. It didn't listen. It's mommy told it to look for cars and it didn't. And that's why it got hurt.
Sam: And it died?
Me: Yes. This is why I don't want you to ever run into the road again. I don't want you to get hurt like the squirrel did.
Sam: (peppers me with rapid fire questions) Why didn't it listen to its mommy? It didn't look both ways?
Me: No. It didn't look both ways. It wasn't a very smart squirrel.
Sam: Why is it red? Did the car smush it?
Me: Yes. The car smushed it. You know how when you squish a tomato, the juice and the seeds come out?
Me: Well, that's what comes out when you squish squirrels. That's what you would look like if you got smushed.
(It was about this time that I began to regret starting this conversation...)
Sam: Why mommy?
Me: That's what you look like inside.
Sam (trying to make sense of the horror): The squirrel didn't listen and it turned into a 'mato?
Me: No. The squirrel was squished like a tomato.
Sam: The squirrel died because he had 'matoes inside?
(I'm thinking oh, crap, now I'll never get this boy to eat another tomato as long as he lives...)
Me: No it just looked like tomatoes. That's what you look like when you get smushed. The squirrel got smushed when the car hit it.
Sam: Why did the squirrel run in the road? Why mommy, why? Why did the car hit the squirrel? Why did it smush like a tomato? Why?
(At this point I changed the subject and thought we were finished discussing squirrel carcasses for the day.)
So we go to McDonalds. We are in the drive-thru and Sam is behind me. So I'm ordering, and his incessant little voice pipes up behind me:
Mommy! Hey! Hey! I want to talk to them and tell them about the mushy squirrel.
Me: Not now Sam.
Sam: Mommy! I want to tell them about the 'matoes.
Sam: Then you tell them! Tell them Mommy! Tell them about the mushy squirrel!!!
(By now we are pulling up to the first window and Sam is insistent, trying to unbuckle his car seat, leaning forward, trying to roll down the van window.)
Sam (as if this were news of the gravest import): Mommy! Tell him Mommy! Tell him about the mushy squirrel and the 'matoes and how the car smushed him.
So I shake my head at the poor kid at the window and say, "He wants me to tell you about a squirrel that got hit by a car."
And Sam pipes up, "The squirrel didn't listen to it's mommy. It said "NONONO! Don't cross the street and he went into the road and he turned into a 'mato and the car hit him. I'll show you it! It just got mushed and the car mushed it and it got into a 'mato.:
The sweet boy played along. "Oh my! The squirrel got hurt! That's horrible!"
And we moved on to the next window during which time I tried to explain to Sam that no one at McDonalds wanted to hear about the mushy squirrel and that wasn't something you talked about in the drive-thru.
I thought all squirrel talk was over, but Tom just got home, and Sam met him at the door with, "Daddy! Daddy! I want to show you something! There's a mushy squirrel that turned into a 'mato. It didn't listen to it's mommy. She said, "Don't go in the road!" And he didn't listen to his daddy. He said "Don't go in the road!" But the squirrel went in the road and they said NONONONONONO! and he got smushed and was a 'mato. Come on! Let's go see!"
So they've just left on a bike ride to go see some roadkill.
*sigh* What have I done?