The capital of clean?

“Mommy, what’s the capital of clean?” Duncan asked as we walked home from school on the second day of kindergarten.

“Um… soap?”

“No, Mommy,” he scoffed, “the capital of clean is dirty!” Then he laughed, so I did too, thinking perhaps this was some sort of kindergarten humor. 3-year-old Milo, riding on my shoulders, draped over my head in a way that was both endearing and uncomfortable, chortled along. Duncan had another question for me: “What’s the capital of nighttime?”

“The moon?” I guessed and Milo echoed: “The mooooon!”

“No, it’s daytime!”

“Daytime? Wait a sec, Dunky, do you mean ‘opposite’?”


“You’re saying ‘capital’, but I think you mean ‘opposite’.”

“Oh, yeah, opposites. What’s the opposite of up?”

“Down! What’s the opposite of hot?”

“Chilly! What’s the opposite of over there?” he said.

“Over here?” I said.

“Yes. That’s the right answer,” he said with authority.

“Oh, good,” I replied.

“What’s the opposite of… this way?” he said, pointing up the sidewalk toward our house.

“That way?” I said, pointing down the road.

“Uh-huh,” said Duncan, nodding.

“My want to go DAT way!” said Milo, using both hands on my cheeks to twist my head in that direction. I lifted him off my shoulders and set him down. He crumpled to the ground and refused to move. “My legs dizzy,” he said, which means his feet fell asleep again from riding on my shoulders too long. Duncan and I stood over him, waiting for him to recover enough to trot the last half a block to our house.

“Now you ask me some, Mommy,” said Duncan.

“Okay, what’s the opposite of big?”


“What’s the opposite of tall?”

“Not grown up yet!”

“Short, Duncan. Short is the opposite of tall.”

“Well, I think there are two opposites of that one, Mommy.”

“Okay, how about this: what’s the opposite of inside out?”

“I know! Wearing your shirt the way it’s supposed to go!”

I laughed and knelt down on one knee to give him a hug. I wanted to squeeze him to me just as he was right at that moment in time before he had a chance to grow up any more, but instead of hugging me back, he plopped down on my raised knee and leaned against my torso, using my body as his portable chair. I didn’t completely lose my balance, but I wobbled dangerously for a moment, catching myself with a hand on the ground. Milo was still in a fetal position on the sidewalk, his sunhat obscuring his face.

“Mommy, what’s the opposite of fall?” Duncan asked.



“Um… fly?”




“Keeping your balance?”


“Let’s see.. not falling is, um, rising?”


“I give up.”




“Like, Santa Claus?”


“The opposite of fall is… Santa?”

“Is it?”

“Duncan…. I’m lost. I can’t figure out how Santa could be the opposite of falling.”

“When is he coming?”



“Christmas, you know that, Duncan.”

“Is Christmas the opposite of fall?”

“No…oh, I see! You mean spring.”

“Yeah, springtime, I think. Is that when Santa Claus is?”

“No, Santa comes at Christmas– which is in the winter– which-”

“Is snow!”

“Well, not here, but other places.”

“At State College, Pennsylvania?


“And Didi and Papa’s?”

“Sometimes. And after winter comes spring and that is the opposite season of fall. You see, I was confused because I thought you mean fall, like falling down.”

“Mommy, that’s not using your brain correctly.”

“Thanks, buddy. So anyway, what did you learn in kindergarten today?”

“We didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?”

“Learn things today. I think we’re gonna start that tomorrow.”

“Oh, I see. Well, maybe you’ll learn about opposites!”

“I already know those, Mommy. What’s the opposite of dog?”

“Duncan, not everything has an opposite, you know.”

“Mommy, the opposite of dog is log!”

“No, that’s a rhyme, not an opposite.”

“How many legs do logs have?”


“Do dogs have none legs?”

“Not usually.”


“Ah… Well, should we walk the rest of the way home for lunch now? Come on, Milo, time to get up. Let’s go.” I pulled Milo to his feet and we walked along three across. “What do you guys want to make for lunch?”

“What opposite yunch?” Milo asked.

“Dessert!” said Duncan.

“Yay!” said Milo, “My want opposite for yunch!”

4 thoughts on “The capital of clean?

    1. Lindsey Post author

      Thanks, Carol! I always want to “like” your likes of my posts. Your unflagging support warms my heart.


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