My children ask questions all day long. As they should, it is how they learn. My concern is that they ask them to me. I like to think I am an educated person, but turns out I know virtually nothing. Although sometimes the questions are ludicrous, such as 2 minutes ago when my teenager asked me if it was cold outside. I am clearly wearing pyjamas, and do not have a secret job for the Met Office, so either she thinks I am some sort of meteorological psychic, or she is asking me as she sees me as some fountain of all knowledge, or she is just plain daft.
The toddler wanted to know why there was weetabix in his porridge, and wouldn’t accept my answer that it was because he in fact was eating weetabix and not porridge, as opposed to some secret wheat based colonisation of his oat based cereal having occurred.
But other times they ask sensible questions. Like Syd asked me what time it was, I replied half past two. ‘Why?’ He continued. Good question. Why is it half past two? Who decided it was half past two? And when the clocks change in a couple of weeks it will be half past three, so it isn’t even fixed. I tried explaining that it was just a nominal name designated to a particular part of the day by human beings so that they can feel like they have some sort of grip on their lives, but that was a little philosophical for him. So why is it half past two, or ten to eight or whatever? It just is I guess.
Then the are the nature based queries. Why is the sky blue? Now I am on my third child, so I can answer about refracted light and all that now. But when it comes to naming plants and birds, I am hopeless. I need to get us an I-Spy book I think.
Once I was in a car with my ex- husband, and he was bemoaning the fact that he didn’t know any of this stuff, and saying how his Dad knew everything. He pointed out the window at a bird in a field alongside the road and said, with a nostalgic tone, ‘See, if my Dad was still alive, he would be able to tell you what that was.’ ‘It’s a swan.’ I replied, before dissolving in fits of giggles. But still, his point was valid, even if his bird identification skills are shit. Our parents knew stuff.
Or did they? I lie sometimes. For fun. I taught my children that sheep that have been recently shorn are called Shauns. And that the Swedish for light bulb is ‘Lighty bulben’ (which it may well be for all I know.) Just little white lies, no worse than teeth purchasing fairies and the like. Perhaps my parents ‘It’s a speckle headed snorblauser’ was all made up too.
And all that bird naming stuff is a walk in the park compared to some questions ‘Why do we have wars?’ ‘Why don’t those children on the telly have any food?’. Who wants to tell their tiny precious, well fed bundles about the horror of the world. ‘Because the human race can be incredibly cruel.’ That is not the good start for a bedtime story.
‘What is love?’ is a nicer one. Although you can probably answer it better than I did, which involved bursting into a tragic rendition of the 1990s classic by Haddaway. (Yes, I had to google his name.)
Speaking of google, how did we manage without that? I can now find a quick educational article on the internal workings of the combustion engine, designed to be understood by the enquiring ten-year old, in about 15 seconds. Thank goodness for that, it relieves me from having to know anything!! Although I miss the rummaging around in the dusty, outdated encyclopedia that was the search engine of my childhood.
The best thing about children asking questions is that I sometimes I get to find out the answers too. I love learning new stuff. Only this week, thanks to an offhand remark in a newspaper article, I discovered little flaps in the end of the foil box, that push into the tube, holding it in place so you can unroll it freely. REV-O-LUTIONISED my life. How did I get to 40 without knowing that existed?!? It is good to keep learning new stuff, even if it’s only purpose is to make sandwich wrapping a little easier.
I think it is OK not to know everything, not to be infallible. It is fine to say ‘I don’t know, let’s find out together.’ Never stop learning, learning is brilliant, and I am glad I can do it alongside my kids. Unless it’s algebra, I closed my mind to that gibberish years ago.
What are the best questions you have been asked by your kids?
Love Miss Cisco XXX