Lunch with Mary

Mary sat at the table. Mom set two slices of bread on a plate. “Do you want mayonnaise?”

Mary scrunched up her nose. “Too slimy.”


“Too spicy,” Mary said.


“Of course, silly,” Mary said.



Mom smiled and added ham and cheese. “Lettuce?”

“Too green,” Mary said.


“I don’t like the seeds.” Mary kicked her heels against the chair legs. “Is it done yet?”

“I just have to cut it into squares,” Mom said.

Mary sat up straight and waved her arms. “Not squares! Triangles.”

“All right,” Mom said. “There you go.” Mom handed Mary a plate of ham sandwich triangles.

Mary took a bite of her sandwich. “Mmmm. Perfect.”

Mom made her own sandwich. It had mayonnaise and mustard and ham and cheese and lettuce and tomatoes. She cut it in half, so that there were two rectangles. She took a bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

“What’s that?” Mary asked.

“Mine,” Mom said.

“But what is it?” Mary asked.

“It’s mine,” Mom said.

“Just tell me what it is,” Mary said.

“It’s a ham sandwich, just like yours,” Mom said.   “Except it has the things in it you didn’t want. See?”   Mom held the sandwich sideways to show Mary a cross section of the sandwich.

“Can I have a bite?” Mary asked.

“You haven’t eaten your sandwich yet,” Mom said.

“Just one bite,” Mary said.

“Fine, just one.” Mom held out the sandwich half. Mary took it away from her and took a monstrous bite.

“Mmmm. That’s good,” Mary said around her mouthful of sandwich.

Then, she took the sandwich half with her and sat at the table. She pushed her plate out of the way and ate Mom’s sandwich in big bites.

Mom sighed and picked up the other half of her sandwich.   She ate a bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

“I’m hungry,” Mary said. “Can I have that?”

“This is mine,” Mom said. “You haven’t eaten the rest of your sandwich. Eat that.”

“But I like yours more,” Mary said. “Please?”

“Okay,” Mom said. She held out the sandwich.

Mary took it and sat down at the table. “You can have my sandwich,” she said.

Mom took the plate and opened up the sandwich and pushed the triangles together. She added mayonnaise and mustard and lettuce and tomato. She cut the sandwich again to cut through the lettuce and tomato. She ate one bite. Suddenly, Mary was standing at her elbow.

Mary held out the rest of the sandwich half. It looked like she’d eaten two bites. “I’m full,” she said. “You can have it back.” Then she skipped out of the kitchen.

Interpreter Lessons

The children sat at the picnic table eating their sandwiches. They ate slower and slower and slower. The oldest child looked at the playground longingly for the twentieth time.   “Three more bites,” Mom said.

The children cheered. The three oldest ate quickly and ran off to play. The youngest circled the table and looked up at her Uncle Rob with big eyes. “Unko.   Wanna die,” she said.

“You want what?” Uncle Rob said. “I don’t think I understood you correctly. Let’s ask your mom.”

He turned to his sister. “Hey, what’s she saying?”

“I wasn’t listening,” she said. “Sweetie, what did you say?”

“Wanna die,” the child said.

“Do you want to do on a drive?” she asked. “Are you sleepy?” She turned to her brother. “Sometimes we drive around and listen to music to get her to sleep.”

The little girl frowned. “Not die,” she said. “Die.   Wanna die.”

“Ride? Would you like a ride on the swings?”

Uncle Rob smiled. “I could do that. I’m good at pushing swings.” He flexed his muscles.

“Noooooooo. Not die.   Die. Die. Wanna die.”   The little girl stomped her foot.

“Well, um, how do you do that?” her mom asked.

“In dare. Zoom zoom,” the little girl said and waved her arm.

“In the dark? You want to hide?” Uncle Rob asked.


“In there? You want to spy?” her mom asked.


“Let’s see if your sister knows what you’re saying,” her mom said.

They called her sister over. “What is she saying?” Uncle Rob asked.

“Wanna die,” the little girl told her sister.

“You want to ride?”









“Wes. Wanna die,” the little girl said.

Her sister nodded. “She wants to play airplane. She wants to fly.”

“Oh, okay. Thank you,” her mom said.

“I’m great at playing airplane,” Uncle Rob said.   He flexed his muscles. “Wings out.” The little girl held her arms straight out. He picked her up around the middle and flew her around the park.

Finally, he returned out of breath and set her down.   “That was fun,” he said.

“Unko. Wanna day.”

Uncle Rob looked at his sister. “What’s she saying this time?” he asked.

“I wasn’t listening,” she said. “Sweetie, what did you say?”

“Wanna day,” the little girl said.

“You want to play?” her mom asked.

“Noooooo. Not day. Day. Wanna day.”

Uncle Rob laughed. His sister frowned. “I’ll figure it out. She just doesn’t know enough consonants yet.”

“It’s a good thing she’s learning then,” he said.   “Because you’re a terrible interpreter.”

His sister sighed. “I guess learning a foreign language is just not one of my talents.”