It is always amazing to me and sometimes frustrating (to be honest) the questions that my children come up with. They are curious about everything from flowers and colors to death and leveled parking structures. The underlying theme in most of the questions seems to be “why.” I understand that this is an effort to understand why and how everything around them works, at least, that is what I have been told. Sometimes I think it is a means to test the mental agility and stamina of a parent. Anyhow, as I was pondering the answers to the the ten rapid fire questions that I received in the five minutes between the car and the pool deck, I put these questions into three categories: Genius Questions, Glad I Have Kids Questions, and Procrastination Questions.
The first category is my favorite. These Genius Questions are the ones that make us as parents, feel like we have done right by our kids and that we may have actually taught them some type of critical thinking that will benefit them later in life. Example: Today, Maya, Ethan, and I were discussing the “Big Woods” (more to come on the Big Woods, think Laura Ingalls Wilder) near our new house. This seems to be a frequent topic in the car these days. Anyway, we were talking about how the wooded areas are getting smaller because people are cutting down the trees. Both kids quickly concluded that this is a terrible thing to do to trees. They wanted to know why people can’t just live in the shade of the trees or build their houses somewhere else? I was impressed with the level of concern and thinking. That leads to the next type of questions.
The second type of question usually presents shortly after the Genius Questions or when you are having a really bad day. These are the questions that make you glad that you have children and tend pull you out of even the deepest funk. As is usually the case, just as I was thinking that I have the two smartest kids in the world and that they are going to be renowned scientists or discover the cure for all that ales the world, I got hit with the question of the day, “Mommy, why are my (Ethan) buns small and yours are so big?” How do you answer that? Not with anger, it is an innocent question that means exactly what was asked. Nevertheless, This is not the first time my big buns have been called into question. This put me in mind of another such occasion. Maya had been helping me fold laundry. I am sure we were having some type of insightful and Earth moving conversation when I heard the question. ”Gee mommy, those are pretty panties. When I grow up, can I wear big panties like yours?” Again, I couldn’t be mad. These are the questions that make me stop and just laugh aloud. I have no answers to these types of questions other than a big hug and lots of smiles. occasionally I will try and explain the science of it, but typically we are laughing so hard we become distracted and forget the original question.
That brings me to the front door of the final type of question. I am not sure if this should be a type of question or a strategy for questioning. I am referring to the burning questions that need to be answered right away or one might perish, or more likely be ushered off to bed. These are the questions that are meant to derail the train that is heading down the hall to the Naughty Step (if you have to ask about the naughty step, you probably don’t have kids). The ultimate kid trick, the Procrastination Questions. These questions, like the Genius Questions, are usually insightful and require a lengthy answer which provides the perfect distraction from bedtime routines or disciplinary actions. Maya and Ethan like to save their Procrastination Questions for the moment in which the toothbrush with dangling toothpaste is headed towards his/her mouth. I can almost always see it coming. It is like a slow motion event. The tiny mouth slams shut, little hands reach for the toothbrush, usually knocking it out of my hand, and then the words flow out, “Mommy, wait, why. . .” I try not to get sucked in, but alas, is it not my job to impart the wisdom of the world into the young minds of my children?
And so it goes. These three categories of questions fill my days with pride, laughter, and sometimes the frustration of not being able to answer. Maybe, some of the frustration comes from being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of questions being asked. Either way, I would not trade these questions for all of the answers in the world. I just pray that I have the strength keep answering them and that my children continue to believe that I know everything!