The "Mm-Hmmm" Maneuver

I'll admit it: at least 30% of the time, I have no clue what my kids are talking about.

They'll tell me something and I'll be all, "Mm-hmmm" (with the "hmmm" part rising an octave or two so that I sound extra-interested), even if I don't know what in God's name they're going on about. Because much of the time, if I actually ask them to clarify, I get a lengthy and drawn-out explanation that doesn't really explain anything at all. And then they get mad when I'm still clueless.

The "Mm-Hmmm" Maneuver works well with the little ones. But now, at almost seven, Colin is getting old enough to where a simple mm-hmmm doesn't cut it any more. Unfortunately, out of all my boys, he's the one who seems to come up with the most out-of-the-blue observations - and the one who gets the most peeved when I'm left scratching my head.

Most recently it's his stubborn insistence that he remembers going to a restaurant called - get this - Carotch O'Body. It's in Las Vegas, he says. That's where he was born, and we lived there until he was three, so he does recall several things about the city and the places we frequented. And if there ever were a restaurant whose name so closely resembled "crotch," it probably would be in Vegas. However. I'm 100% positive that we never ate at anyplace by that name (and, really, who would?).

When he tells me this, I ransack my brain for names of places that sound anywhere near "Carotch O'Body." And aside from probably a few strip clubs in the area, I've got nothin'. I'll toss out a few names, and he swiftly and grumpily vetoes each one. And then launches into more details in hopes of jogging my memory.

"The hallway was on this side, not on this side," he'll say, gesturing. "And there were restaurant lights all over. And TVs. And when the chef took off his hat, his hair was spiky." With each detail he gets more insistent, more impatient, like why haven't you remembered this yet? and looks at me as if I have early-onset dementia.

"What did we eat there ... crabs?" I joke to Curtis out the side of my mouth.

"No," grouses Colin. "Chicken fingers."

The kid does have a memory like a steel trap - I'll give him that. One time like a year ago, we were eating some nachos, and Curtis and I recalled going to a restaurant where the tortilla chips were blue ... but we couldn't for the life of us remember where. Then suddenly, Colin piped up, "It was the Harley-Davidson Cafe. Their chips were blue and red and white!" ... And he was totally correct. Even though he was probably two, maybe barely three, the last time we ate there.

But Carotch O'Body? Doesn't ring a bell.

Eventually Colin gets frustrated with my inability to remember and drops the subject. But inevitably, it comes back up. And he's as insistent as ever. And we go through the whole process over again, because he just doesn't lose hope that someday, some day, one of his details will spark some recognition within his poor forgetful mother.

I should have just said "Mm-hmmm" when he was young enough to be satisfied with that.

(PS - Thanks SO MUCH to everyone who responded to my last post. Ironically, the day I posted it, we got called to an emergency parent-teacher conference in the middle of the day because of Colin's use of "inappropriate language." The offending phrase? CHICKEN POOP. I'm officially tired of public school.)


  1. Wow, seriously? That's the best they can come up with? They need to come listen to my house. Nevermind, my son's grade five teacher uses the word Crap on a regular basis. Not sure if that's allowed, but whatever...
    It's amazing what kids remember. I can't remember people I went to high school with! I'd just go with,"Sorry, but when you get old like Mommy, you start to forget things! LOL!

  2. Chicken Poop? Seriously? Have these people actually ever had any dealings with children?

  3. Perhaps they would be happier if he said bullshit.

  4. My 9yo son got in trouble for saying, "Your mom." As in someone was insulting him, and his response was, "Your mom." Whatever. His teacher is one of those people you can tell didn't have any friends in school. Or ever.

    Anyway, love the MmmHmmm thing - I do that on a daily basis. Who can listen to another detailed description of an imaginary battle between two LEGO guys?

    I found your blog on Studio30Plus. I really like your take on things and we have kids of similarish ages, so I'm looking forward to getting more advice/commiseration as your newest follower. :)

  5. I know! I didn't even realize how bad I did this until we were at family's house at Thanksgiving. A second step-cousin, niece type person asked me, "Do you even know what he's talking about?" (in response to me mmm-hmm-ing to my son's constant prattle).

  6. I can remember being so frustrated with my mom when we went through the same thing. Except she always blew me off and didn't believe me. It still drives me nuts to this day!!!


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