Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Woman's Guide to Answering Questions You Didn't Actually Hear

Today's post comes from our beloved and brilliant Kate in Michigan. It's all about what happens when you answer a question without really hearing it. I jumped on it for three reasons:
  1. I sometimes tune out my husband and kids, to my peril.
  2. The post is hilarious
  3. Kate is a ninja and she might roundhouse my taco if I make her mad.
Here's some info about her:
Kate Prouty (known as Kate in Michigan here, and sometimes NinjaK8) is a flutist, teacher, mom, wife, and longs to Be A Writer.  But that smacks of effort and persistence.So she cobbles together a few paragraphs every now and them and lobs them into the vastness of the Internet to see if anybody notices. You can read her blog here.
Mom is sitting on the couch, cup of coffee nearby.  Earbuds in, listening to Cee Lo Greene’s “F*ck You” for the 11th time in lieu of psychotherapy or inappropriate amounts of wine.

8 year old son approaches, Nintendo DS in hand.  Mom looks up and sees child’s mouth moving. Hears something like: “MAMErLiKJE…SadiKjwejro..LEVEL-UP..brrrrwerrrr..NINJAsdffff…OK?”

Then the child looks at her expectantly.

BAD ANSWER:  “Um.  Sure, honey!”
GOOD ANSWER:  “Well, hard to say.  Let’s think on that!”

What he might have asked: “Mama!  I just got Portric to get super jumps and I LEVELED UP!  But really, I hope next time I remember to use my super NINJA shield. OK?”

OR, what he PROBABLY said: “MAMA! The dog just pooed on the floor in my room! And then I LEVELED-UP on Club Penguin!  And so I’m going to let the hamster out so it can pretend to be a poo-eating Ninjahamster. OK?”

So you can see how “Bad answer” could be a problem.

Mom is sitting on couch, large glass of merlot on the coffee table, dog sleeping on her feet, Facebook Words With Friends on her laptop. 10 year old daughter has been hovering nearby, clicking away on her own Netbook.

As Mama gleefully plays “RHYTHMICALLY” for 108 points against MikeIsAFox342, her daughter’s voice filters into her brain.

“…sleep…blanket..sldooo…Barbie!…..ZIPLOCK! BUT THEN..soon…peed..looskb..AND NOW IT’S BLUE!”  Daughter looks quizzically at Mom.  “Well?”

BAD ANSWER:  “Wow!  Cool!”
GOOD ANSWER:  “Whoa. Iiiiinteresting.  Explain.”

What daughter might have said: "And then, in my dream, I was asleep, and the blanket turned into a little mini-blanket, and then I was a BARBIE!  And there was a plastic bag under the Barbie bed, like a Ziplock!  And then there was a real toilet in the Barbie house where the dolls peed. And when I looked at the Barbie’s hair? NOW IT’S BLUE!”

Or possibly could have said: “I have such trouble going to sleep!  My blanket is so weird -- the one we borrowed from Aunt Barbie? And  I found a Ziplock of something green and … like leaves? stuck into the stuffing in the quilt. So I let the dog have it. And then I found out that the dog had PEED on my box of paints. And that white rug? NOW IT’S BLUE!”


Wife is simultaneously folding laundry and fantasizing about being Anthony Bourdain’s secret lover.  She is composing a scene in her head which involves edible flowers, honey wine, and a late-night, surprise visit. Gradually she realizes that her husband wasn’t talking to the TV.

“….and then?  Bllopppty TENURE vrrrrw rampoot DRINK pwwww DEAN chipstos…mmbmmlbl.  SEVEN…mnn. WHAT DO YOU THINK? OK?”

INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS ANSWER:  “Great!  You’re so right!  Yep!”
BEST ANSWER:  “Whip it!  WHIP IT GOOD! Dooo doodoodoo. I SAY WHIP IT!  -- Wait.  What were you saying honey?”

What he MIGHT have been saying:  “And then, after that stupid Promotion and Tenure meeting, I came home to grab a drink of soda and came upon Paula Deane making potato chips.  Now I want to go grab a bag of Ruffles from the 7-11. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Ok?”

What he PROBABLY was saying:  “God, I hope I get tenure this year.  I’m thinking we should host a faculty party -- maybe drinks, I think, and invite the Dean!  Maybe with some chips, your homemade salsa, and a cheese tray too.  How’s Friday at 7?  What do you think? OK?”

Oh, God.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. Heidis MountainMamaFebruary 28, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Hilarious!!!! I've also learned that *silence* is a very Bad Answer. Its important to ALWAYS say something!

  2. Ha!! Love, Love, Love this!!! I constantly mmm hmmm my husband & kids. My husband has caught on to this & will randomly spout nonsense to see if I will catch it and answer appropriately. I actually blogged the opposite about how THEY never hear US... lol Guess it goes both ways!!

  3. SO true and SO real. I cannot tell you how many times I find myself doing the whole "sure honey" before I snap myself out of my Facebooking trance and say, "WAIT, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY??!!"
    Love it.

  4. I have found myself falling into this problem. Then I have to re-ask hubby the same question that he just told me the answer to. Oops! He will also say to me when I have to repeat something to him "I guess you told me but you know how I need to hear something several times before it sinks in."
    I guess our kids come by this honestly, because usually when I am telling them something they need to really understand they hear the Charlie Brown Teacher's voice. For example:

    Me: "don't run downhill on a gravel road or gravity may pull you forward and you may do a face plant into the gravel and have to get stiches in your upper lip like Mom did when she was a kid and boy did those needles hurt! Understand?"
    Them: "Yeah Mom, I understand"
    Me: "What did I just say?"
    Them: "Ummm, I don't know......"

    Actual conversation I had yesterday with both my kids as they were running down a steep hill on a gravel path.

    Jrseygirl in VA

  5. I suffered from the 'um, sure" response earlier this week. I was trying to read something and my daughter kept pestering me with 'mama,mama,mama'. She asked me something, I said "um, sure" and then went back to reading. My husband came home and flipped out when he found my daughter in the shower with a 10 pound bag of flour making 'roads' for her matchbox cars and monster trucks. He asked her what the heck she was doing and she said 'Mama said I could.' Whoops.

  6. Too funny! I haven't had to put these into practice yet, but I'll keep it in mind!

  7. this is hilarious... except the anthony bourdain part.. I think I threw up in my mouth a little about that part.. bleh

  8. Glad to know I'm not the only one with the secret Anthony Bourdain fantasy. ;)

  9. Totally love this! Go Ninja!!

  10. Dang! I thought I was the only one that fantasized about being Anthony Bourdain’s secret lover!

    I totally know the feeling of being caught with a bad answer. Damn Anthony!

  11. AND I did it again this morning.... My daughter said she was going out to the car & I Ok'ed her... a half hour earlier than we needed to leave... Yayyyy momma

  12. I do this all the time. The best was with my two year old daughter, who NEVER stops talking. I was changing her diaper and not really listening, saying "Yes, yes. It's very nice." Turns out she was saying "Is this my vagina?"

    She walked around all afternoon saying "I have a very nice vagina, I have a very nice vagina!"


  13. I have a tendency to do this with my students. They will ask to go to the bathroom, I will say yes without realizing it. Then 2 minutes later, I start questioning where they are. Oops!

  14. "I don't know" is my automatic (and completely safe - think about it) response when I am not listening. My kids are going to think I am the stupidest person ever. Little do they know.... muahahahaha. (That was an evil laugh.)

  15. "Beatro trannihah vadipladous havasplurb schroushnik blop."
    Heard at a family gathering.

  16. I really just WISH I could tune the family out. LOL




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