It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Small Mystery of Life

“Here, May-wee. Gots batgahwees.”

“So I see. Where did you get the batteries, Nigel?”

“Gots batgahwees!”

“But where did they come from?”

“One-two-free batgawees!”

“Yes. I have one, two batteries. Did you find them on the floor?”

“Batgawees! Inna hand!”

“Yes, you put these batteries in my hand, didn’t you, lovie? And I guess I’ll never find out where they came from.”

Adam appears in the door.

“Hey, mom. Any idea why my calculator was under the dining room table?”

“Oh, I think maybe. Where was it supposed to be?”

“In my backpack.”

“Which was where?”

“In the front hall.”

“And where’s it supposed to be?”

“In my room. But, mom, I laid it down so the zips were all underneath and the frame was on top! The babies would have had to turn it over!!

I take his point. In that backpack, we have a calculus text (approx. 12 pounds), a chemistry text (10), biology (8), and English literature (8), plus assorted binders and educational paraphenalia. Shifting that thing when you weigh no more than 20 pounds yourself, would be no mean feat.

We check the front hall. Against all probability, the backpack lies belly-up. Having already learned the futility of trying to weasel information out of Nigel, I simply do the maternal and use this incident to remind Adam why his backpack is to proceed directly to his room after school. Adam, however, is curious, and decides (naively) to get to the bottom of this.

“Hey, Nigel. Did you open my backpack?”


“Yes, my backpack. Did you open it?”

“Open-a pack-pack!”

“Did you turn it over?”

“Turn-a pack-pack!”

“It’s a heavy backpack. How did you turn it over?”

“Pack-pack! Turn-a heavy pack-pack ovah!”

“Yes. DID you turn it over?”

“Pack-pack! Turn it over?”

“Hey, mom? Mom? Is he dodging the question, or does he just not get it?”

Yeah. The $64,000 question.

February 28, 2007 - Posted by | Mischief, my kids, random and odd


  1. Mary—SO funny. I think the kids do get it but they also “get” how to confuse all these adults around them.

    Comment by So Called Supermom | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. I wonder. I figured out a while back that in order to understand a question–what it means, what it’s asking for–you have to experience a few rounds of Q & A–that is, you have to observe a few times what is accepted by the questioner as an answer to the question. Seems to me perfectly plausible that a toddler might be at the stage of getting the interactive nature of question and answer–someone aske me a question, so I’m supposed to say something back, and it’s supposed to be about the same thing–but not really know what’s being asked–or perhaps even quite understand yet that something IS being asked–that new information is wanted.

    Sorry to be so plodding in response to such an entertaining post.

    Comment by addofio | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. Ah yes, the old parroting to avoid punishment. Does he know he wasn’t supposed to go into Adam’s backpack, get the calculator, and remove the batteries? Absolutely! That’s why he hid the evidence under the table.

    Comment by Haley | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh Lordy. Tommy still dodges the question that way and he’s nine.

    Comment by Jen | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  5. nigel’s a clever cookie. i bet he’s totally dodging the question. i’m getting awfully attached to that scamp. 🙂

    Comment by lara | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  6. If he’s dodging your questions, you have to wonder why he brought the batteries to you in the first place. Why not hide them under the piano or something?

    Comment by Stephen | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ha! That’s hilarious. You wonder sometimes, don’t you? By this point, with language well-established, I assume she’s weaseling, but there is a period of definite ambiguity (ooh, oxymoron!).

    Comment by kittenpie | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  8. hehe…is Nigel around two and a half?? That sounds an awful lot like a conversation with my son!

    Comment by Redhead Mommy | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  9. He’s ready to foil police interrogators already!

    Comment by Lady M | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  10. memory like a goldfish

    Comment by Karyn | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  11. This makes me laugh, but mostly I’m just shocked to “hear” Nigel talking. It seems like yesterday he was one of the new babies. Wow.

    Comment by Kristen | February 28, 2007 | Reply

  12. You know what? Having read all your comments, I’ve had an insight!

    ADDOFIO! You are absolutely right! In this instance, I am convinced that’s just what’s going on. Nigel recognizes a question, and understands that it requires an ‘answer’, but he has no idea what really constitutes an answer. So he’s doing his level best – but missing, every time.

    He can answer very simple questions: “Where’s Emma?” But even “Are those your boots?” often elicits “my boots?” in response.

    Stephen also made a valid point when he noted that if Nigel hadn’t wanted to be caught out, he needn’t have brought me the batteries.

    I also recall that Nigel’s older brother, George, had just the same question-and-answer weirdness at about this age. Must run in the family.

    However, to all the rest of you who think he’s dodging: that’s a perfectly valid interpretation based on the evidence, and for most kids it’d probably be the right one.

    In another two months, it’ll be the right one for Nigel, too, the little stinker. 🙂

    (Karyn: “Memory like a goldfish”! HA!)
    Redhead Mommy: He turned two at the beginning of January.)

    Comment by MaryP | March 1, 2007 | Reply

  13. Love it! Never underestimate the strength of a toddler!

    Comment by mamacita tina | March 2, 2007 | Reply

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