Feeling Crotchety

We Talked Too Much


There’s no polite way to say it. Porter, one of my nine-year-olds, talks too damn much. He narrates his actions as if I’m blind and can’t see what he’s doing. “I’m going to make an omelet with ham and eggs,” he’ll say, pulling the eggs and butter out of the refrigerator. “First I’ll mix up the eggs and scramble them,” he’ll continue, as he cracks the eggs into a bowl. “Now I’m waiting for the cheese to melt a little. Is it melted? It looks kind of oozy…”

I’ve learned to ignore most of the running commentary. But Porter’s also exceptionally curious, and his questions would drive even the most enthusiastic teacher to the brink of insanity.

“What would happen if the sky fell? What Mom?”

“The sky isn’t going to fall, Porter,” I’ll say tiredly.

“But what if it did? Just say it did? Would you feel it hit your head? If you looked up, would you see blue? Would the clouds fall, too? Would we be able to see straight into heaven?”

It had been a hot and dreary day. I’d been juggling Finn’s baseball schedule and trying to mark Drew’s clothes for camp. In between, Porter had followed me around, asking, “How many seeds do you think fit in Feather’s bird feeder at one time? Why do we have grandparents? What would happen if we didn’t? Who invented summer camp?”

By dinner I was spent. I could feel the symptoms of PMS creeping up on me like a cagey leopard. Across the table I saw Finn wielding his fork with surgical skill to extract the onions from the Bowties With Peas & Prosciutto I had prepared.

“Dude, just eat it all in one bite,” I snapped.

“I can’t eat onions,” he whined. “They’re like, really nasty.”

“They’re not nasty,” Porter said, stuffing a quarter of an onion into his mouth and chewing. “They’re actually quite delicious. What makes onions so delicious, Mom? And why can’t you eat the skin? Why do they make you cry when you cut them? What if everything tasted like onions—do you think Finn would starve?”

I slid my chair back abruptly and stood up. “I can’t take it anymore,” I said. “The questions, the criticism of my food, it’s all too much.” I looked at Bill. “Honey, y’all take care of this kitchen. I’m going to bed to read.”

I had barely taken a step when Porter asked, “What are you going to read? Can I read with you? If I bring a book, will you read to me?”

I was shaking. I got in his face and yelled, “Porter, if you want to continue to live in this house, The Questions Have Got To Stop.”

Then I got in bed and wept, over my picky eater, over my nutty schedule, over my cruel remark.

A while later Porter tiptoed in my room and handed me a piece of paper. It contained one last question:


It was nice to be forgiven.


Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Dirtiest Camper


  • kristen

    when I worked in day care one of the little monkeys asked me very earnestly: “What does ‘is’ mean?”
    Try answering that with out using the word ‘is’.

    kristen’s last blog post..Monday Review

  • child's play

    That note!

    The good thing about curious kids is…it’s hard to squelch their enthusiasm. Luckily. 🙂

    This reminds me of the line in Shrek, “He’s the talking-est damn donkey that you ever saw…”

    I’ve got a question asker, who is 8 and who I now routinely direct to google. Google never gets overloaded with questions.

    child’s play’s last blog post..Camp Highlight

  • Sam

    I have completely been there. Just at the end of your rope, you lose it at them, and then…

    …without knowing it…

    …they turn the other cheek. And you’re humbled. And ashamed. And sorry. And full of love.

    Until the next time… 🙂

  • MamaD4

    Just the post I needed today…I didn’t snap because of incessant questions, though I also deal with that on a daily basis. I snapped because my preschooler was dawdling when we caught out in the rain. I just couldn’t get him to shake a leg, God it drove me nuts!

    The worst part is dealing with the guilt at getting angry over something that seemed so important and annoying at the time, but later on, you realize was probably not that big of a deal.

    Luckily, our kids have short term memory defiencies and big hearts!

    MamaD4’s last blog post..The Long Ride

  • Erin

    We all snap sometimes. Their readily forgiving nature is also too much sometimes. It actually ADDS to the guilt. Hope you’re feeling like yourself by now.

  • Charlie on the PA Tpk

    What your reaction shows is your human (and I daresay, able to withstand many more questions that I am capable of before I would have ended the questions).

    And what Porter’s note shows is that he’s learned from his mistake.

    All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.

    Charlie on the PA Tpk’s last blog post..It must be Monday

  • Karen

    I remember and really, really, really, really, REALLY miss those days. Now that my youngest is 16, I’m lucky if I get more than 3 word answers to any questions. I know it’s hard, but hang on to these days. They’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

    Beautiful writing and beautiful child!

    Karen’s last blog post..The Summer of My Discontent

  • Soccer Dad

    Ooooh Mom Guilt! 🙂 Dad’s do it too. We’ve all lost it when they’re being especially annoying in their cute adorable way. My daughter is the ace of being an absolute wench with attitude and when I finally lose it I get the note of contrition that she’s such a horrible person and is so sorry, etc, etc. Love her to death but if we could just spare the drama, there’d be no need for notes! 🙂

    Great post!

  • Charro

    That is sooo sweet! I would frame that note and put it somewhere you can see everyday to remind you that it is all ok.

  • Rebecca


    And second? My 12 (this week!) yr old is another Question Boy. He mostly asks absurd “What if” questions… kind of along the lines of Porter’s “what if the sky fell” question… only HIS made more sense than the ones my boy asks. And he won’t take “I don’t know” or “that won’t happen” for an answer. He genuinely wants me to come up with a response.

    Yeah, totally identify with your frustration. BTDT, but thankfully, they *do* always forgive, don’t they.

    Rebecca’s last blog post..One more

  • Karin

    As a couple of people commented above, you will tear out your hair when you have to ask all the questions. “How was your day at school? Fine. What did you do today? Nothing.”

    Thanks for the recipe reminder, I was just trying to figure out the answer for the upcoming question “What’s for supper?”

  • Toni-EvinNRobsMom

    That was too funny!! My 8 y/o does that also-“Mom what’s for dinner?” “Mom, what are you going to do?” “Mom, where’s (enter name of annoying toy here)?”
    I then look at my S.O. and say “Hey-remember when Robert couldn’t talk??”
    He didn’t start talking til he was 4 or 5…now we can’t get him to stop!! 🙂

  • Tana

    My almost-five-year-old can’t put the silverware away without having a conversation with each piece about what it is. Is this the big spoon or a little spoon? …the big fork or the little fork? And I only showed him that way once. They wanted to give him speech therapy at age 2 because he wasn’t saying enough words. We refused at the time, but if those speech therapists had a way to get them to shut up, I’d be first in line, signin’ my kids up for therapy.

  • Katrina

    I just had my own tantrum yesterday, so I can totally relate! Having my nine year old, Katie, home for the summer is a whole new kind of wear and tear on my nerves as she talks incessantly of various video games and, yes, asks about a million questions.

    I’m always heartily ashamed of myself when I finally fly off the handle, especially given that I can feel it building up well before it happens and, hypothetically, as an adult, should be able to short circuit the response somehow.

    Maybe I should give myself a time out.

    Katrina’s last blog post..Borrowed Bliss

  • jen

    Sounds like my house…except one asks questions non-stop and I can understand him, and the other asks questions non-stop and has enough of a speech delay that he can be tough to understand. If I’m not actively following what he’s saying, I have a snowball’s chance of figuring out what he’s talking about. These two are exhausting. 😉

    jen’s last blog post..I totally stole this…’cause she told me to…

  • karyn

    I love it.

    Because I can relate to it. RainMan here doesn’t stop with the questions either, but his thinking is so divergent that I can hardly keep up with the rapid fire and the sudden change of direction his questions take. I start giving bogus answers.

    This post made me tear up a little… because it reminds me that it’s not happening just to me.

    BTW? I think the kid is a bloody genius. And you’re still my hero.

    karyn’s last blog post..I Write The Songs

  • Lisa

    That was so sweet it made me want to cry. He’s a precious little thing, even if he does talk you to death. Reminds of when I was a kid and would come home and talk non-stop to my mom. She would say, “Didn’t anybody let you talk today?” while holding her head in her hands. I would stop long enough to grin and get right back into it.

    Maybe you could get a set of encyclopedias (the real thing, not the net) for him to read. I would become totally engrossed with a volume at a time…and now know lots of random stuff.

  • LeeAnn (FrazzMom)

    I have a son who is a verbal processor too. The running commentary can drive you crazy although it could work to my advantage sometimes too… Especially when I heard things like “I’m going to kick sister. I’ll kick her hard!” over a baby moniter. I swear he thought I could ready his mind when I yelled at him before he carried it out!

    LeeAnn (FrazzMom)’s last blog post..There’s no place like home(town)

  • Cassie

    I live with that child everyday, 24 7. It’s not just you, we often joke that our son could make the pope drink, and honestly he could. But Porter’s questions are insanely easy compared to what I get. I promptly tell my son to leave the room for 20 minutes, and ponder the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, then come back to me. PMS hugs!

  • Heidi

    Except that Finn is totally right about onions. They are completely nasty. And seriously getting a bite of one when you believe they’re nasty will ruin the whole meal.

    (It’s not like getting a pea in your bite when you don’t like peas. Onions hang around, and even onion lovers can’t deny that.)