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Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second?

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2011-05-19 Daily Times.jpg


I always ask my kids what they did at school, even if I don't understand the answers. My elementary-school kid mystified me with school jargon for a while, until I started to catch on: "Double specials" meant art and gym on the same day; "accelerated reader" was a reading incentive program, etc.

My 3-year-old speaks toddler-ese still, so his recap of the day can be mystifying, too, but I can usually rely on it to be "so, so, dunny" (in a twist that seems both typical and cruel for kids, he can't pronounce "r yet, the same letter that starts his own name). I only catch about every other word he fires at me, but it usually involves a funny story about him and his best friend pratfalling or doing something inexplicably hilarious on the slides.

But I was most mystified of all when the little guy decided to ask me about my day: 'What did you do at Doctor Who today?"

I was pretty sure I had heard him wrong, but he repeated it very, very clearly. What did I do at Doctor Who today? This called for a much more interesting answer than what I had done at work that day.

If you've missed it, "Doctor Who" is a BBC science-fiction series about a witty, heroic alien who looks and sounds suspiciously like a British human, and can travel in time and space. I fell in love with this show when I was 5 years old, and would you believe it — it's still on, albeit with a new cast and higher-budget robots.

I have deemed it a little too scary and complex for the 3-year-old, though, so why he was asking me about it I couldn't imagine. Still, this was an opportunity not to be missed. "Well," I told him, "first I traveled to the past and had tea with the king, then I fought some pirates."

He was rapt, so I went on: "Then I went into the future to a green planet where little, white blob aliens were climbing into people's mouths while they were sleeping. I had to save everyone by inventing a special vacuum that sucked them all into a different dimension."

That was a good question — it kept us conversing and creating elaborate scenarios for our entire walk to the store. Of course, some of the time was spent with my older son and I speculating where in the planet Gallifrey the question had come from.

We had to admit to each other that at this point, our days have become pretty much the same, whether were going off to the office or to the classroom. We tell each other right away if something unusual or exciting has happened, but those days are rare.

So instead, we have started asking each other more exciting questions. Not "What did you do at school today?" but 'What did you do at Hogwarts today?" or "What did you do with Max and Ruby today?" The answers are much more detailed than normal for my older son, and his younger brother comes up with wildly embroidered tales that seem to involve a lot of alligators.

And I still had no idea where the original question came from, until just yesterday morning, when my 7-year-old was eagerly looking forward to school in normal, jargon-y fashion: "Hooray, we have Dr. Hughes today!"

Eureka! So that's what the little guy meant, probably. But no matter. The oddball question tradition already had been established.

Gwenn Garland is mother of two children and is the administrator for the website Delmarva.Moms

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2011-05-19). Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second?. The Daily Times .
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second?." The Daily Times [add city] 2011-05-19. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second?." The Daily Times, edition, sec., 2011-05-19
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second? | url= | work=The Daily Times | pages= | date=2011-05-19 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=9 August 2022 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Who's on first? Doctor What's on second? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=9 August 2022}}</ref>