Outsmarted, School

How Pre-School Is Like Las Vegas

Apparently, just as in Las Vegas, what happens at school stays at school.


When I pick Sean up from school, he does not like me to ask him what he learned that day or if anything noteworthy happened.  This line of inquiry literally seems to pain him. Literally.  The expression on his face, it’s as if his gall bladder has suddenly gone bad.


He’ll usually heave an exaggerated sigh and look out the window and change the subject.  It’s like he’s in the witness protection program from 9am to 1pm and if he tells me what he’s doing during that time, he’ll have to kill me.  Ironically, I think he knows that not telling me anything kills me. And oh how he lords that over me in his 4-year-old power play way.


Yet I can’t stop myself from asking.  I must get him to tell me something.  Anything.  Did you play on the playground? Did you ride on the see-saw?  Did you eat your lunch? Who did you sit next to?  Were there other children there?  Did the teacher talk about anything?  Anything? Anything at all?


The other day, on the way home from school, I tried reframing the question about ten different ways to trick him into giving up some information.  With skills like that I could probably get me a job as an FBI interrogator. For those many times when the FBI needs to get a 4-year-old to spill his guts.


Finally he gave an exaggerated sigh and said, “Look mom, we talked more about the letter L okay?”


To which I responded.




It was a riveting conversation.

51 thoughts on “How Pre-School Is Like Las Vegas

  1. Why don’t they want to tell us what happened? My little guy does the same thing. I had to revise my strategy so I started asking him what his favorite thing at school that day was. That seems to work – I can at least get a couple of sentences out of him without getting my head bit off!

  2. Don’t worry. Eventually, they will tell you. It took mine 4 years, but I’m FINALLY getting more information about third grade. What’s really funny is when her 2 year old sister asks her how school was.


  3. I have a friend with a son like this…getting any kind of information at all out of him is like pulling teeth out of his head. I have only daughters and they are the opposite. LOL

  4. I remember hating talking about what I did at school, even in high school. they didn’t really care, and I didn’t really need to go over it. And if I said thigns like ‘well, I threw a pear core at Rebecca’s head and she didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day’ they’d get all wrought up!

  5. My kids used to do that all the time. It drove me crazy. I’d ask them “so, what did you do/learn about at school?”, and they’d give me the standard reply… “nothing”. Hmph. What a great return on my investment. Like Melinda said, eventually he’ll tell you. My kids now go into great detail about certain aspects of their day. I bet it is all about the 4 year old power play!

  6. Oh funny…I was going to say what Nicki said. I ask them, “What was your favorite part…” But then again — I home school — so I ask them this stuff about Sunday School class… or field trips. LOL

    I’ll go around the table and forget to ask the 3yo and she’ll get miffed. I’ll then ask her, and she’ll say, “I don’t know.” ::rolls eyes:: Silly Girl.

  7. In our house it was a boy/girl thing. My boys were(are) just like Sean except they are in high school now.

    Then the girl came to live with us. I learned every detail about she said this and then she said that which hurt the first “she’s” feelings and then on and on and on……….

    I began to wish for the days when they said “nothing.” Not really but I could go for a little less detail.

    What I hated the most was when one of the boys came home from elementary school in a foul mood. I’d know something had happened and it usually took DH and I hours to draw it out.

    One of these days a girlfriend is going to break up—we’ll be back to the foul moods without knowing what is causing it, I fear.

  8. It’s a male thing. It’s what you get for not having a girl. My daughter and granddaughters always had plenty to say when asked what they did at school or Sunday School. Men think in “boxes”, and when they leave one box, they think no more about it until presented with it again.

  9. Ahh! “Whatwasyour “favorite” thingyoudidtoday?!” You slide it in there like spinach tucked into a Twinkie. Y’all are so smart. Did you learn that at FBI Interrogation School?

    I will be trying that out this week.

  10. My 3-year-old girl won’t tell me about her preschool days either, I have to interrogate the staff instead!

  11. I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

    (At least, I still am potentially the only one who spent several minutes standing in the snow demanding, “Who did you play with at nursery school?” like an FBI interrogator, but still…)

  12. Hmmmmm. I suspect this will be the norm here. My oldest is already 2 1/2, but asking him how his time at nursery was gets me almost no information. Right now it’s because he ‘can’t’ tell me everything I want to know; soon it will be because he ‘won’t. Sigh.

  13. I’m dealing with the same thing with my 5yo son and it can be frustrating. I’ve also tried asking the questions in a variety of ways with no luck. I’ll continue to ask, but I no longer get too upset about it because I seem to recall my daughter being the same way. Now at 9, she’ll tell me anything that she feels is important with only a little prompting!

  14. My boy develops amnesia on the way home from school. No matter what question I ask, he responds with, “I can’t remember right now. Let me think on it.”

    I could ask him what his name is and he answers the same way.

    Just maddening 🙂

  15. Oh, how I look forward to these days (not so much). We’re starting to get into the back-arching, stubborn tantrums at only 5 mos., so I can’t imagine what this stubbornness will turn into by 4 years. One can only pray for the Lord’s mercy!

  16. Neither my son nor my daughters were big on discussing these things with me either. Not even the youngest. Yesterday, she volunteered that “Peyton ate some soap at school” while we were eating dinner. I felt very triumphant.

  17. LMAO! So relate. Sometimes I ask about the other kids. “What’d Ian do today?” My boy talks more freely about the others. That usually gives me a peek into the day. Oh, and my mother-in-law goes in occasionally to volunteer / be my spy. That always helps!

    By the way, 9-1? Sweet. You can actually get something done! My son goes from 9-11:30, so I can drive home, run around like a maniac, then drive right back.

  18. LOL — Now THAT is funny!

    We’ve learned that you can ask what goes on, and you might get a little information in return… but if you listen to them talk to siblings or other people, you’ll find out what you want to know. 🙂

  19. I think it is a boy girl thing…..Once my son had a child taken out of class by paramedics…into an ambulance, sirens blazing….and when asked what was new at school that day? Nothing…My daughter on the other hand gave me great detail of every minute….who wore what…how far out on the forehead her teachers veins popped…who threw up…what they threw up…..it was exhausting…..also….girls “play school” at home…boys would rather eat nails than “play school”. Now they are both teens….boys are easier…..it’s a trade off for those younger days!

  20. I totally agree with Mary. With our son, we got NOTHING as far as information on his day. Still don’t. With our daughter, sometimes my eye starts to twitch waiting for her to take a breath. Not only do we get every detail from her; but if she has her friends with her, we get their views as well.
    The comic strip ZITS one week had a story line that illustrates all this very well. With each question the parents asked the teenage son about his day, he was imagining himself in a different medieveal torture device. So True.
    Wait till he starts hating to travel with you.
    Fun Times.

  21. I hate to say it but misery loves company. Or maybe a community of mothers sharing the almost exact same experience at least soothes the ache to be included in our childrens increasingly independent lives. Our boys are early teens and there are many days that the smallest morsel about their time away from us is like sweet nectare! Oh the journey of parenting!

  22. Omigosh, is he 4 or 14? lol I only had the one girl, and she learned somewhere along the way to be rather selective in what she told me. I’m not sure which is better: no information or carefully chosen information.

  23. Oh that is too funny! Just keep on trying… I found that with my kids, some give info, some don’t. I can almost see the look on your son’s face…

  24. At the risk of sounding trite, welcome to my world. My daughter won’t stop telling me about her day and my son would rather, I don’t know, eat worms than tell me anything about his day.

  25. It’s not gender, my girl’s a clam. And I tried the “What was your favorite thing” approach. Answer: The walls are pink. For 2 weeks now! Best of luck. The girl can tell me what she had for breakfast 3 weeks ago, but not what I packed in her lunch at school. Luckily, our pre-school sends home a “What we did” sheet every day and that’s been most helpful.

    For example, “E did you (reading the sheet) paint today?” E replies, “Yes.” So I ask, “What did you paint?” She replies, “I’m hungry.”

    See? You can only hope to have this kind of conversational flow!

  26. And then there’s the type of kid who talks from the moment you pick him up until you pull into the driveway…and even after you’re in the house. Until your ears begin to bleed.

  27. I do believe it is somewhat a gender thing. I have two daughters and they can’t wait to tell me everything as soon (or before) they get in the car. This has been going on since Preschool. I have had to tell my oldest daughter that she needs to wait to tell me something until she gets in the car because everyone is listening! I also have mothers of sons who come to me to find out what is going on in class or the school because they know my girls tell me absolutely everyting and their boys say nothing! I know this to be true because I sub frequently at their school and I know more that goes on there than most of the teachers! Sorry for the lengthy post. My advice is to make friends with the mom of a talkative daughter or son (should that be the case).

  28. Yep, my kids utterly do not talk about school, either. One day, there was a basketball team visiting school and a concert and did they tell me this after school? Nooooo, “nothing” happened again. Geez.

  29. Oh my, wait until he is 15 or 17!! Wow, I think someone sewed their mouthes shut with thread! Oh except for when THEY want to talk…the the floodgates open!

  30. My daughter is the same age, same way. Not even a snippet of info. One day I gave one of her classmates a ride to his daycare because his mom was out of town — HILARIOUS!! They went back and forth the whole way “We did centers…we had graham crackers and juice” “Ella, that wasn’t juice, it was Kool-aid…” on and on they went. It was like they were 12 (although when they’re 12 they probably won’t speak to each other for boy/girl reasons). So oddly enough, picking up a second child was the key.

  31. Yep. I never got any info from my son, still don’t. My daughter only tells me when she challenges a teacher–In 2nd grade it was “why am i writing questions in a journal if my teacher isn’t going to answer them?” and in high school it is “why do I have to show my work when I am doing just fine in math without showing my work?” Maybe I don’t want to know everything that goes on at school.

  32. I really wish I could tell you that they outgrow it. Luckily if you are persistant they will stop trying to stonewall you and just give in with the annoyed sigh and spill a few details immediately. That happens right around the age of 9. Until then, good luck!

  33. I remember my mother used to ask my friends what we did at school, because I didn’t like to spill either. When I ask “what did you do at school,” the answer is often “Nothing.” “How are the tadpoles” usually yields a little more information.

  34. With my first son, it was exactly like this. He did not want to tell me anything. Actually, he’s still like this, and he’s in 7th grade.

    My younger son, now in third grade, has been more obliged to share. I started asking him, “What did you learn today today that you didn’t know yesterday?” This, for him at least, was the “magic question formula.”

  35. It’s a boy thing. I had to make friends with the mother of a girl in order to find out what was going on. And it doesn’t get any better as they get older. I just found out about a fight at school, it happened two weeks ago. When I asked him about it he just shrugged. Good news or bad he just isn’t sharing it with me! Oh well.

  36. Our preschool has communication board where the teacher usually writes something about the day. New students, changes in groups, what activities they did, or things they talked about during circle time. It is a great springboard for specific questions. “I hear you have a new girl in your class, what is her name?” I usually get better info if I ask those kind of questions. If you preschool doesn’t have a board, then you can only imitate the CIA or FBI. Good luck with that one. My four year old is a girl and we are getting the “Duh Mom” and I roll attitude these days.

  37. I have the same problem with my two preschoolers. They refuse to tell me anythiing about their day except their snack. The only thing I can ever get from them is whether they had vanilla wafers of goldfish…it’s maddening!

  38. I think this is one of the job requirements for all school age children! My mom says I did the same thing to her 40 years ago, and my 11 year old used to do the same thing to me. I solved that problem though. Now we HOMESCHOOL. Bwahahahahahaha! I know everything … except for what she does in her homeschool co-op classes… sigh.

  39. I totally feel you on this one! This kills me every day! I feel like I’m drilling him & pulling his teeth. I eventually get a “we did numbers” …well what may I ask did you do w/them??? eye roll… & no answer. Maybe I should resort to teeth pulling 🙂

  40. I don’t think that gender is the fundamental reason why some kids love to share the details of their days and others don’t. I think it has more to do with the need for privacy and personal space. My feelings used to get so hurt when I would get mono-syllabic responses from my daughter Sophie (now 6) when I asked questions about her day. It would drive me crazy– not knowing anything about what she’d been experiencing. I was accustomed to so much more intimacy with her.

    My dear friend Donna, now near 70, who has five grown children, gave me some wise counsel. She believes that kids now have so little private space in their lives, because the world is a less-safe place, because parents are so much more involved in their intricacies of their children’s lives–and that this is not such a good thing for our children. Remember as kids when we all had a “secret place”– a place we could go to for daydreaming, fantasy, a place that was all our own? So many kids now, my daughter included, have so little of that kind of time and space. So when Sophie doesn’t want to answer my questions, I try to think of it as her way of carving out something in her life that is “just hers”, that she doesn’t have to share with her parents. And seeing it that way, helps me to feel supportive of her, rather than rejected by her.

  41. DD1 who normally won’t BE QUIET already! gives me the “I don’t remember” line too. So weird, but I do know that on some days they have music, others movement, etc.. so I’ll ask if they had sign language today, etc…and then for details on that. Eventually I get a few details….However, in line for kinder registration last week, all us parents started comparing notes (our kids all go to the same pre-K) and found out quite a bit. I think we may start a weekly coffee to share notes and get a more complete picture.

    Those kids are doomed! Too many mom’s talking together and a starbucks on the corner, they don’t stand a chance!

  42. So it’s not just me? As much as it should pain me to hear everyone else is struggling, too, somehow it does my heart good. I thought it was some particular brand of torture that only I was being subjected to. My daughter, nearly 4, talks like a machine gun during all her waking hours, that is except when I ask her what she did at school. “I just did NOTHING!” is the typical response. If I prod her long enough, I can usually get an insight as to what she had as a snack. Sigh.

  43. I use the “what did *insert other child’s name* do today trick, too. At least, I do when my tired brain will actually recall one of the kids’ name !

  44. I am a homeschool mama so I know what we did at school…. But when my husband asks he always and I mean always answers “we didn’t do anything” To which husband says what do you mean and child says I don’t remember anything. So I just look bad all the way around…

  45. I interrogate Laylee MERCILESSLY after preschool. It really is like a secret society over there and I’m hoping that she’ll get the secrecy out of her system now so that by high school she’ll be telling me EVERYTHING.

  46. I get the same standard answer as many other parents:
    “nothing.” They are teenagers now and it hasn’t really changed since preschool except now they forget to give me important information, such as printouts with important details about upcoming events, etc. I either never get them until after the event is over, or they suddenly remember the morning of the event that I need to sign a form and send in money to cover the cost of a field trip they forgot to tell me about.
    Many years of telling them I need ADVANCE notice has never made any difference.

  47. Mine are the same way. The kids who won’t STOP talking when I’m trying to read or work are like stone when I ask about their day.

    My secret trick is having them call their grandparents or their cousin. Honest – the first day of Kindergarten, I couldn’t get two words out of C. He called Grandma and talked her ear off for 45 minutes.

    That doesn’t work for the day-to-day (even grandmas aren’t THAT patient!) but doing it once in a while lets me at least get a glimpse of their daily lives.

    Sometimes crazy suggestions like “I know – I bet you went outside in your underwear” get them laughing so hard they forget the code of silence and start talking.

  48. I have this same conversation with my kindergartener and my preschooler. I am bugging them- pestering. That’s ok though, I call it paybacks for all of the times I hear “Mom” throughout the day. You have a great blog, We bought an old house that needs some work, I’ll be back to check out some ideas.

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