Breaking silence (and wind)

Posted by Erica Noonan  September 19, 2010 09:24 PM

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Thanks to everyone who offered such good advice on getting some details out of Dennis about his first few weeks of kindergarten.

I tried many of your ideas, like asking about his favorite part of the day and chatting up the other parents.

But the Moms Are Talking About award has to go to genius reader jstarr who offered this pearl of wisdom:

"I break the ice with goofy questions - what was the funniest thing that happened today? Who got in trouble today? Who had the best/worst snack or lunch? Did anybody f@rt or burp or cry (they just love bodily functions). Once you have "back to school night" you should have more insight from the teacher on the day's schedule and then you can know what to ask - who got to be line leader? Attendance taker?..."

Oh, whoa, wait a sec, jstarr! You had us at f@rt.

What a brilliant conversational device for the under-6 set! I tried it with Dennis, and got a hilarious rendition of who did, well, exactly that.

According to Dennis, kindergarten is a profoundly flatulent place. The kids, the teachers, the principal, even the classroom guinea pig -- all in desperate need of Beano.

And the bus! A methane mobile!

This gaseous line of inquiry produced hours of giggling, and raspberry-style sound effects that lasted, unfortunately, all the way through dinnertime.

But embedded within the laugh/f@rt track, were a few new names of kids in his class, and the revelation that they'd all made their first visit to the library. (Side note: f@rting in the school library apparently also a serious problem. I hope those poor librarians have a fan.)

So, I'm calling that one a win. Thanks to everyone for the advice, especially jstarr.

Any more thoughts about how to get your kids to (willingly) chat about their school day? Leave a comment, or drop an email to And follow us on twitter at @ericanoonan

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about the author

Erica Noonan is chief of the Globe West bureau. Before joining the Globe in 2000, she worked for the Associated Press in Boston. Raised in Wellesley, she has a master's degree in political communication from Emerson College and a BA in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. She lives in Natick with two energetic children: Dennis, 6, and Lila, 4.

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