My preschool-aged son and I were running errands one evening when his mind tracked towards our dog and the last time we put her in the kennel.
This was a subject of great concern to him, which reminded me of how great it would be to be four again.
“Where does Angel sleep?” he asked.
“They have nice beds for all the dogs and cats there,” I reassured him.
“When does the man at the kennel sleep?” he asked.
“He sleeps at night, just like you do,” I said.
“But who takes care of the animals while he’s asleep?” he asked.
“There’s another man who works there at night to make sure everything is OK,” I assurred him, trying to head off his fears that his dog might ever be alone.
“But Da-a-ad,” my son started. Any of you who’ve raised a young son know that voice. “That would mean he’s nocturnal.”
I paused. I’m pretty sure that’s something I’ve never, ever, ever thought about. Not once. That’s one of the great things about kids–they’ll bring up stuff you’ve never thought of.
But besides all that, where did he pick up THAT word, of all things?
I smiled, and laughed. “Yes it would. Does your mom know you know that word?” I asked.
He shook his head, unsure whether he was in trouble.
“Where did you learn that word?” I asked. I really wanted to know. School? Sesame Street? The Electric Company? That’s a really big word for a preschooler.
He said he didn’t know.
So we talked about other things that are nocturnal. Owls, mostly. He said he thought he liked owls, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen one.
I still don’t know where he learned what “nocturnal” means, though I am thankful that he got over his personal nocturnal stage some time ago. It’s fine for the guy who works the graveyard shift at the kennel to be nocturnal, but little boys? Not so much.