Remember to Answer Their Questions

The boy requested instant noodles. Lord only knows where he got the idea from. “Which ones?” Poppa asked. “These ones are 99 cents. Those ones are $2.30.”

“What’s the difference?” Mr 5 inquired.

When I arrived to pick up Ollie from Poppa’s place later that afternoon, they were both at the table, with two steaming pots of noodles in front of them. One pot was plain-pack, the other an ironically unidentifiable name brand. They had compared the contents of the flavour sachets, and were conducting a taste test worthy of a 3-star sommelier. Ollie was quick to point out that both pottles contained a “foldy fork”.

“So” said Poppa. “What’s the difference?”

Ollie’s eyes swivelled up and left, indicating deep thought. “We-eeell”, he said in trademark singsong, “I thought the one with pictures would be better, but they taste the same.” The conclusion was obvious. “The pictures must cost a lot, but I don’t think they’re worth it.” He nodded sagely to himself.

I think it was about three months later that Dad passed away. It’s been four months since then. In those four months I’ve never answered Ollie with “just because”, or “I don’t know”. And I hope I never do again.

Miss you Dad.

10 Comments

  1. Yep you hit the nail on the head there Ben, well done, it’s the little things that often mean the most to us:-)

  2. A great epitaph: He never answered “just because”.
    The world would be better off if only more people took the time and the effort to help children learn to think.

  3. I am who I am, because I was never answered “just because”.

  4. I learned this when I was younger, my father worked as a designer for a company called Aerosol Products, they made, aerosol products. Thing is, they would make all sorts, fly spray, hair mousse, air freshners etc. Once they got a new formula they’d sell that, either to multiple, or exclusively to their clients who were all household names I knew. So the concept of an OEM and branding became quite clear to me at an early age. All for being interested and asking questions and getting answers just like this.

  5. Interestingly, my 13yr old's Science fair project was also on noodles.

    He did a lot of temperature measurements over time and the conclusion: Be careful with noodles.

    Those suckers are still hot enough to cause a significant burn for quite a while after they come out of the microwave.

  6. That’s beautiful Ben.

    I always said before kids that I wouldn’t say ‘Just Because’ and I try not to, but boy they are a lot of questions 🙂

    Also, I still see people paying though the nose for name brand when the generics often come off exactly the same production line. I trust Ollie won’t be one of those people.

  7. @rob-nz: he may be on to something. Perhaps we should insulate the house with noodles?

    Thanks for the feedback guys. It’s nice to write about something a bit different, even if it did make me cry all over my keyboard when I wrote it 🙂

  8. I follow Jolisa’s blog and remember what she wrote about your dad as well. He’s obviously quite a legacy.

  9. Err… LEFT quite a legacy.

  10. That’s OK, Teresa. Works both ways. He IS a legacy in action, every time his grandchildren stymie the rest of us with a logical question, or every time I figure out a new and more efficient way to do something and feel like I’ve one-upped the universe (Me: 1 Entropy: 0), or every time my wordy nerdy kids lose themselves in music, or… there are so many ways.

    In the middle of the recent literary brouhaha, when it was all up in the air and I felt a bit lost, I found myself saying out loud “Oh, Dad, what the heck do I do now?” First time I’ve ever asked for guidance from the great beyond.

    It was a shock and a reassurance to hear an answer, as calm and as clear as bells ringing: “You invoice for the work you’ve done so far.”

    (Which is a total LOL moment for anyone who knew him: my Dad the accounts angel, patron saint of checks and balances).

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