Mario Stories

How to Get in Trouble in Preschool

THE REQUEST: Write about a time you got into trouble for something

Want to know the most trouble I have ever been in in my life? Well it happened when I was five years old, and it happened in preschool. And, um, I really should have apologized to my parents for this one. Because this little incident actually cost them hundreds of dollars.

The look you get when you cost your parents money for the first time

Before I get into this story, I have to familiarize you with one of my mom's favorite words first. This is a word that, as far as I can tell, DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. In fact, I don't believe it has ever existed anywhere except in the head of my mom. It's entirely possible it's a word she just sort of invented one day. But it's a word I DEFINITELY heard a lot when I was a kid, because it usually applied to me.

That word, that you need to be familiar with for this story, is "nixnox."

See, told you it's not real

A "nixnox", for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, would be defined by my mom as "a kid who is a bit of a handful." Or "a kid who is a bit of troublemaker." Or, as my mom used to always say, "A kid who just has that gleam in his eye. You know that gleam. That one that lets you know that he's up to something."

And, well, I'm not especially proud of this. But basically, when I was five years old, when my mom said "nixnox", she generally meant me.

Me with my cousins in 1979. See if you can pick out the nixnox.

Me with my brother in 1978. See if you can pick out the nixnox.

I'm not proud of the pants, but I am proud of the spirit

This will probably surprise the people who knew me in middle school and high school, when I was one of the quietest kids in the school. But when I was five years old I was not quiet at all. I was a NOTORIOUS nixnox. To the extent that my mom literally wrote this about me, word for word, in my baby book. 

"Dominic is a happy-go-lucky, mellow child, and he is content to just sit in a room with you and listen to you sing. Mario, on the other hand, he can be a handful. Mario will challenge you."

That's right, mufugga. This one would challenge you.

So yeah, even though "nixnox" isn't a real word, it's a word that definitely applied to me when I was a kid. My mom used to say it about me all the time. In fact, if you want to hear it used in context, here you go. Here is an actual quote that once came out of the mouth of my mother: "Mario, you little nixnox! Stop bathing the cat in the toilet! He doesn't like that!"

That sentence alone should give you a pretty good idea of what I was like as a five year old.

Although in my defense, we always did have a pretty clean cat

And with that, let's get back to the story of how I got in big trouble one day in preschool.

So obviously, when I was five years old, I was a bit of a handful. In fact, I know this will surprise the people who only knew me later in life, and know how zen I am now, but I actually got detention seven different times when I was in first grade. SEVEN DIFFERENT TIMES IN FIRST GRADE. Try to beat THAT, you pansy little twenty-first century first graders now, I bet you can't. But yeah, when I was little, I was a wee bit out of control. I was a young wannabe comedian. I was 
mischievous. I was super hyper just by being around other kids. And most importantly, as my mom could have told you, I was a nixnox.

But my WORST offense at school came when I was five years old, and I was in preschool.

Because that was the year I popped our school's giant innertube.

A giant innertube (left), with friend

So anyway, it's 1979 in this story, and my family is living in Spokane. And at this point in my life (this is important to the story), my family is poor. And I mean, DIRT poor. Between the years 1977 and 1981 my dad was a law school student at Gonzaga, so he didn't really have any income. The majority of his day was either spent A) at school, B) studying for school, or C) at the track. And that meant our only family income for four years was from my mom, who worked maybe a couple of hours a day part time at Safeway.

In other words, we literally didn't have a cent to our name during the four years we lived in Spokane. The only clothes I ever got during those four years in Spokane were when my mom would take me down to Goodwill, and she'd pick me out something acceptable from the discount bin. That was always my school wardrobe. In fact, here's how poor I remember us being when I was a kid. I remember that we couldn't even afford ornaments for our Christmas tree. My mom and I literally made all the ornaments for our Christmas tree out of pieces of old laundry detergent bottles. This was the reality of my life back when I was a kid. I remember we were always just poor.

In fact, here's another memory I have of everyone around me just being poor when I lived in Spokane. My best friend at school, Mack? I remember that he and his family LITERALLY LIVED IN A SCHOOL BUS.

The Spokane Hilton, circa 1979. Very low rent.

And with the knowledge that everyone I know in the world is underprivileged and poor, let's get back to the whole innertube story.

So it's 1979, and my family is dirt poor. And I'm this out of control mischievous little five year old. And for whatever reason, one day at preschool, I decide, "You know what would be funny? What if I took a pin, and I started popping holes in the giant innertube we always play with at recess? Wouldn't that be funny if it just slowly deflated on everyone?"

Side note: Giant innertubes were a common thing on school playgrounds back in the day. They were the big stretchy inner part of a tire, and if your school was cool they would often have one that was like eight feet wide, or more. These things could be HUGE. And at recess you could jump around on it, like it was a trampoline. Or you could throw a tennis ball against it, and watch the ball come flying back at you at weird angles. They were ALWAYS the centerpiece of any playground I was ever on in Spokane. And for whatever reason, yeah, when I was five, I decided... you know what would be funny? What if I destroyed ours?

"Mario, on the other hand, he can be a handful. Mario will challenge you."
-Gloria Lanza, 1976

And so anyway, yeah. I hang my head in shame over this one, but that's exactly what I did.

I found a pin in our house one day, in my mom's sewing box, and I brought it to school. And I just started poking holes in our big giant innertube. Not a lot of them at first. I mean, I didn't want it to be obvious. I just wanted to poke a few small ones each day, just to see what would happen. You know, in the name of... uh... science. Yeah, that's right, it was a science experiment. :)

And that's why I know it takes exactly four days to completely deflate a giant ten foot innertube.

"Wherever work is done, victory is attained."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

So here's the thing about this story. I really didn't think I was going to get caught. I mean, I had SPECIFICALLY poked only a few small holes every day, just so no one would catch me. I had deliberately gone out of my way to only be very subtle. But I guess my preschool teacher was Sherlock Fucking Holmes or whatever, because for some reason, she figured out I was the culprit right away. And that's when she called my parents up on the phone, and she told them what I had done. And she mentioned what a destructive little nixnox I was. And she pointed out that my parents were going to have to buy the school a new giant innertube.

And man, I'll tell you... even though I wasn't really capable of feeling guilt at that age, as a kid who knew our family couldn't afford things... I felt absolutely TERRIBLE about that.

I felt worse, of course, after my mom spanked the shit out of my butt later that night. But I would have felt bad just over the money thing, too. I promise.

The look you don't want to see when you're a five year old kid

That's the look that tells you... you shouldn't have challenged her

And anyway, this is one of my most distinct memories of growing up in Spokane. And of me just being an annoying little nixnox who got into trouble all the time.

In fact, I can still picture in my head my dad rolling in this big giant innertube that he had bought for the school as a replacement. Although I have NO idea where he found such a thing in 1979. In fact, thinking back on it now, I have no idea where my dad found one of those things, HOW he found one of those things, how he afforded it, how he managed to transport it to my school. I don't remember ANY of that. I just remember him rolling this big giant innertube into the front door of my school. And him just glaring at me the entire way. And me feeling about two feet tall. Just feeling absolutely terrible about the whole thing. Vowing I was never going to do anything bad again in my entire life.

I was going to be a changed kid after this. I was going to reform and be good.

"Never again", said the defendant. "Never again."

I mean, I still got detention seven times two years later, in first grade. So it's not like I changed THAT much. But still, I'd like to think the innertube incident made me a better person at least in some small way.

If you like Mario Stories (or any of my other projects), please consider becoming one of my Patrons.

Patron fees are the only way I can keep this website alive, I don't have any other ads or revenue streams.

Back to Mario Stories - The Index