Name Protection, Preschool Style

“My mommy said not to write my name.”

“She did?”

I am easy pickings for leg pulling and the kids know it, but somehow this little tyke looks dead serious. None of the tell-tell signs of lip corners dying to lift in merriment. None of the twinkly eyes that let me know I have been had. Again.

I’ve been through all manner of stories that led to hilarity-about-my-gullibility: Believing that a child had gone to the circus instead of school, or that their grandma allowed ice-cream for dinner, that they went to the zoo on a rainy day and everyone got wet (in actuality, this one was wishful thinking, as the trip got cancelled…), or that their dad said they would get another iPad all their own (scratch that, this one ended up being true … the earlier version having lost its sheen, in the eyes of the child or father, I’m not sure …).

This no-writing-name business; however, that was new. No hidden grins, either.

“Your mommy said not to write your name?” Maybe I misheard. Happens.

Little-Tyke nods serenely.

“How come?”


Fair enough. We grownups should get a taste of our own medicine at times. Not that I do a lot of the “because” why-chain-question-closer, but I probably have said it once in a while when it became too clear that questions served to avoid work, and not for real curiosity or learning.

“Hmm. I’m curious, though …”

Little-Tyke gazes at me.

“Is it you who should not write your name, or is everyone not allowed?”

Frown. Tiny creases appear in the five-year-old’s forehead. Cute as a button, this one. Even perplexed. Maybe especially when perplexed.

“I think only me. Me not write it. You can because it is your job already.”

“Ah, okay. That’s good to know.”

Sage nod.

“Why do you think you can’t write your name?” I really want to know. This rings  of misunderstanding of adult-talk.

Throughout this all the nanny, her head buried in her cell phone, ear-buds plugged in, sits motionless by the far table she often chooses to wait by, rather than on the couch near us, where most caregivers sit. I have come to believe that the sessions are a time of rest for her, a calm refuge from having to constantly watch an active munchkin, and I know she has very long days.

“Because you’re not suppose to,” the kid brings me back to the topic. “You not suppose to write your name.”

Now I’m not supposed to, either? Is this a repeat of something he heard said, a glimpse into the bigger context of this misunderstanding?

“Why, though.”

“The bad people will steal it.” The boy’s expression is certainty reincarnate.


“Yeah, if you write your name then the bad people take it and steal it and take all your numbers and even all your money and then you don’t have a name anymore.”

Identity theft. Preschool style.

A few moments of discussion of private information and how one can still have a name even if they write it … and Little-Tyke is reassured that he ‘probably’ could add his name on the drawing he had made to take home. I leave it as an open option. No pressure … For extra measure of reassurance–and because I don’t want to put him in a bind of doing something I say is okay but that be believes his mom said was not–I send a text to his mom in his presence and following his approval of the query wording: “can LT write his name on the work he does here?”

The mom’s response is “??? of course he can! Is everything okay?”

“All fine.” I respond. “I’ll explain on phone. TTYL,”

The little boy’s eyes have been glued to the phone’s little screen. He sits up suddenly, part-admonishing, part-suspicious, part-gratified. “Aha! You see? You didn’t write your name, either!”


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