Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Johnny Stared at a Grape All Day

"Johnny stared at a grape all day" is an expression that I stole from a comedian whose name I can't remember, and it refers to the phenomena of people who talk about their kids and how awesome they are all the day, thus boring their interlocutors. Whenever I think I am talking about my kids too much, I cut myself off and say, "Johnny stared at a grape all day" and I really wish the phrase would catch on.

I was talking to my neighbor's caretaker the other day, and she said, "Well, Joshy is three next month. One to twenty in English. One to ten in Spanish and almost the whole alphabet."

I really couldn't figure out how to respond, but the comments that popped to mind in order are as follows:

A) What's the point of memorizing numbers and letters when your brain isn't ready to comprehend quantity and phonemes. Why not memorize something cool like a Johnny Cash song?

B) Oh, well maybe he'll avoid becoming dumb and fat like you.

C) Uhh, my six year old can almost do that,  my three year old definitely can't, but I'm still sure they're smarter than your kid anyway.

D) I haven't enrolled my kids in the meritocracy, but if I had, I would love to give you their stats.

A though D didn't seem polite, and the older I get the better I get at not letting my thoughts flow straight out of my mouth (I still haven't totally mastered that skill though) so I pitched my voice an octave higher and went with E,

E) Oh, that's so great. Wow.

So, the next time, you pull a "Johnny stared at a grape all day" (and we've all done it, I'm sure) and someone responds with "Oh, that's so great. wow" you can be assured that they probably really don't give a damn.


  1. Hrm. I taught Romy to show me her tickets to the gun show. Where does that rank on your spectrum of intelligence here?

  2. I would imagine that your kid is a veritable genius, and training her to do dinner party tricks is useful? right? I would listen to you "johnny stared at a grape" all day long (I can use that phrase as a verb, right?).

  3. Totally - you can verb anything as long as you wordify it.

    Rob keeps telling me she's a genius & I keep steering him away from that - did you read Nurture Shock? There's this whole thing about overpraise, and I especially believe girls who are held back by being constantly told they are smart, especially for things that are simply developmentally-appropriate.

  4. I have two standard observations that have served me well: "Oh, look at THAT / HIM / HER!" and "Really?! / No kidding?! / Wow.", the "Wow." never being exclamatory.

  5. I haven't read nurture shock (but I intend to), but I try to steer away from overpraise or being nice in general really. It inevitably creeps in though. I have one kid that for whatever reason really craves external verbal validation...

  6. I am The Worst grape starer in the world. :( Maya is, by the way, really good at sucking on her fingers. And growling at stuff, like my breasts and the lamps.