It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Voice-Over for Living

Arthur is an extrovert. No, no, that isn’t saying it forcibly enough.


Yes, that’s better.

With small children (and not-so-small ones) this often means that they talk a lot. Their every action is accompanied by a running commentary, which would be tolerable, well, mostly tolerable… well, sometimes… well…

It would be kinda sorta tolerable on a really good day with great earplugs IF they didn’t expect you to be paying attention while they did it. They don’t expect you to listen, exactly, because generally the monologue is not for communication, it is for their own amusement. It is a monologue, not a conversation. They don’t want to have to listen to you, but they do want your attention.

Your role is to throw in “uh-huh”s and make sure to be looking at them when they look up at you. If, God forbid, you are looking elsewhere when you say “uh-huh” and they catch you at it, the volume goes UP and you’ll probably get whacked in the leg as they repeat their last critical phrase three times over, just to be sure you didn’t miss it. “I gots a red crayon, Mary, see? A red crayon.” A poke to my upper arm. “This is my red crayon what I’m colouring with. I gots a RED CRAYON, MARY.”

“Yes, yes, I see. A red crayon.”

Let me state that tiny extroverts have many wonderful characteristics. This, however, is not one of them.

Arthur’s life is accompanied by a sound-track. He talks his way through every minute of his day, every action.

“Mary, I’m gonna go pee now. I’m going up the stairs. I’m gonna go up the stairs and go pee, now…” His voice recedes as he ascends toilet-ward.

The voice returns “…down step, down step, down step. Mary, I’m back. I finished peeing and I washed my hands and now I’m gonna go build something. I’m just gonna take out these blocks, and I’m gonna put this block here. These blocks are the gate and the truck will drive through here, and…”

Some days I have more tolerance than others. Many days I can tune it out. Generally by the end of the week, I’m worn a little thin.

“Arthur, you know what? I’m getting a bit of a headache, and I need you to be quiet now. Please don’t talk to me.”

“I’m just gonna-”

“No, Arthur. I mean it. Eat your snack and be quiet. My ears are tired of listening.”

A moment passes in silence, broken only by chomping and smacking. He opens his mouth, looks at my weary yet forbidding eyes, subsides. Chews some more. Takes a breath, opens his mouth. Sees my glare. Stops. This no-talking business is a big assignment. I relax my visual vigilance as he seems to be absorbed in the happily mouth-occupying task of snack-eating. I turn to the kitchen.

“Mary, I’m swallowing now.”

August 25, 2006 - Posted by | Arthur, behavioural stuff, the dark side


  1. I’m just impressed that you can even get him to stop briefly. Bryce just keeps talking, all the while we’re in the background screaming KILL ME NOW.

    Comment by Kristen | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  2. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “Christopher. I need you to be quiet for five minutes. Being quiet means no talking, no humming, no whispering, no singing, no making noises of any sort at all. Please.”

    And then 30 seconds go by and he says something or makes some noise and then my head explodes.

    It’s better now that I can ground him. No, really. I have grounded my son for talking too much.

    I’m evil, aren’t I?

    Comment by Candace | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  3. heh heh heh.

    Comment by Susan | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  4. Ah, Mary. I witnessed such a thing this morning when I dropped Kyle off at daycare. A 4-year-old was talkingtalkingtalking to the provider and would not stop. She said “M, we adults are talking right now.” M said “okay I’ll just be quiet over here.”

    Comment by KTP | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  5. That cracked me up! Ian’s just starting to get there. At night he gives his Elmo doll an earful. Soon, it will be us…YIKES! Cute, but still YIKES!!!!

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  6. Awww, what a great chuckle that was. Hehehe! Lordie, I never know what to do when I’m feeling particulary hearing-challenged with Jordan. He’s just like the Energizer Bunnny – he goes on, and on, and on, and on…Sometimes I just wanna run for the hills screaming!!!

    Happy Friday!

    Comment by Jennifer | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  7. I have a 13 year old Arthur (at least when she’s speaking to me at all).

    And a ten year old who was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. She never met a conjunction she didn’t like.

    Comment by Granny | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  8. When my daughter was little she useta didn’t talk til she was 4 years old. I thought she would never say “mom” or any form of the word. The week after her 4th birthday she started talking and hasn’t shut up since. There are days when I have to tell her “Abbie give me the really important stuff first” because I start to zone out after a while of listening to her go on about how everything is “so cool” right now. She’s 13 now. I love her, but GOD can she ramble on about nothing.

    Comment by kimmyk | August 25, 2006 | Reply

  9. “I’m being quiet. So quiet. See, I’m being quiet!” I can just imagine that as a follow up.

    Comment by Lady M | August 26, 2006 | Reply

  10. This is my life. My daughter started speaking words at 10 months and has never, ever, ever shut up.

    Comment by Velma | August 28, 2006 | Reply

  11. […] narration of his life (which, I tell you now, in the hands of the right child, can drive you INSANE), but a cheerful conversation whenever he has your attention. He’s not just talking to make […]

    Pingback by Little Miss Echo « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | September 28, 2011 | Reply

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