It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Elephants for lunch

“Mary, is that pasta?”

“Yes, it is. Pasta for lunch.” In fact, it’s meatballs on egg noodles with a sour cream sauce. Nom. (The ‘meat’balls are in fact a meat-free veggie version, in deference to vegetarian Jazz.)

“Mary, is that pasta?” Grace echoes Jazz’s question. Grace is an echo-er. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it’s just annoying, and on the worst days, you wonder if the girl ever has an original thought in that pretty little head of hers. (On those days, the bad ones? The answer is a firm ‘no’. No, never, not a one.) Jazz is an echo-er, too, come to that, but it manifests a little differently. One day maybe I’ll remember to tell you all about that.

I hate answering mindless questions. I’ll answer obvious ones. Once. And I just did.

“I already answered that question. If you heard Jazz ask, you heard me answer. You tell me: Is that pasta?”

“Yes. Pasta.”

“Right. Now we all know.”

Now, I know these questions are simply a toddler’s way of making conversation. They talk in concrete terms about what is in their environment. They don’t really wonder if that stuff actually is pasta. They’re just making small talk.

“Mary, is that pasta?” (Jazz)
“Mary, is that pasta?” (Grace)
“We are having pasta for lunch? (Rory)

But I will tell you now that the endless repetition of the same BLOODY OBVIOUS question can drive me insane, some days. I usually answer it once. That seems only polite. Thereafter I’ll deflect, as I did with Grace, above. But when it just. won’t. stop???

“Mary, we are having pasta?” (Grace)

“Mary, that is pasta for lunch?” (Rory)

“No, Rory. No, it’s not. It’s a bowl full of elephants.”


“Yes, we’re having elephants for lunch.”


And I don’t know if the universe knows I’ve been pushed about as far as I can go without cracking up entirely. Maybe I’ve puzzled the children enough so they don’t know what to say next. Or they’ve decided I’m crazy, and it’s best not to provoke the crazy lady. Maybe they’re just finally hungry enough to eat those damned elephants… But, for whatever reason…

no one argues.

No one even asks,

“We are eating elephants for lunch?”

They just eat.


It is enough.

December 9, 2011 - Posted by | food, Grace, Jazz, Peeve me, Rory | , , ,


  1. For the record, my go-to answer for the “what is that we are eating”-type questions is “live toads”. Then I say ribbit ribbit.


    Heh. My first husband was not a picky eater if you served him food within a particular range. (It was a decently generous range, but still, not an adventurous eater.) When I stepped outside that, and particularly when it was something I’d made up myself, he’d respond with a very suspicious “What is that?” One day I was particularly irked (and a-typically bold) and blurted out, “Pigeon droppings. Eat it.” And he did! I’m rather proud of that moment. They were few and far between in that marriage…

    Comment by Hannah | December 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. My second is an echo-er also. She’s turning 5 in January. :-\ Drives me batty.

    Oh, I’m glad to hear that! Oh, wait. I’m not glad you have an echo-er, but I am glad to know I’m not alone in being annoyed. Good lord, some days…

    Comment by meesha | December 9, 2011 | Reply

  3. My mom’s go-to answer for “what are we having for dinner?” was always “pig butts and cabbage”.

    Heh. To think that as kids, we never did understand why mom got so snarky about a simple question. Now we’re mothers, we get it. As with so very many things! Nothing made me appreciate my mother more than becoming a mother!

    Comment by June | December 9, 2011 | Reply

  4. I have told mine that we’re having squid often enough that they will answer each other’s question that way. “She will tell you we have squid!”

    That sounds like progress to me! Does the question come less often these days?

    Comment by daycaregirl | December 9, 2011 | Reply

    • That’s my standard answer too, “squid tentacles for lunch, gentlemen.” When they protest I agree that I was kidding and am really going to serve them monkey toes. Heh.

      Comment by Samantha | December 11, 2011 | Reply

  5. Reminds me of a few years ago when I was pregnant with Little Man and working for at a daycare center for a couple months. Every day the preschoolers would ask me,.”is it a boy or a girl?” and since we didn’t find out I’d tell them, “we don’t know yet, we’ll find out when the baby is born.” After a couple days I decided to change it up. “Abby is your baby a boy or girl?” and I’d respond with, “It’s a puppy!” or monkey, or kitten, or whatever other animal came to mind! This always brought plenty of giggles and I didn’t have to pull my thickening hair out in frustration!

    Exactly! If you can’t prevent the question, make the answer goofy and you’ll all have fun!

    Comment by Abby @ I Used To Have A Brain | December 9, 2011 | Reply

  6. Are your tots making gifts for their parents this holiday season? We haven’t settled on a project yet so I’m still shamelessly looking for ideas to steal.

    Comment by Samantha | December 14, 2011 | Reply

  7. Hmm, mine just played me at my own game – told me the imaginary meal she had made for me was giraffe, and when I made appreciative noises, gave me a withering look and said “not REALLY, mummy, it’s toast”. 🙂


    Comment by Angie | December 14, 2011 | Reply

  8. How does a vegetarian family fit into Mary’s eating philosophy?

    Comment by Hedy | December 20, 2011 | Reply

  9. […] Onslaught of the Obvious Questions continues unabated. I answer them straight, I dodge them, I divert them … but still they […]

    Pingback by Why I Love My Husband (reason # 57368932) « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | December 22, 2011 | Reply

  10. […] Daniel remain oblivious, but Rory decides he will hold the door open for me. Grace, the original Echo Girl, thinks that’s a great idea, so she holds it too!!! That door? It’s not going […]

    Pingback by Just doing my job « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | January 11, 2012 | Reply

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