Sunday, October 9, 2011

Got a Question For You...

Before I had kids I used to think answering a child's questions was a wonderful way to help that child grow and become a better human being.  I was eager to respond to any child's general inquiries about life and the world, to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and help that child learn.

Then I had kids, and that all changed.  I realized that the questions Just. Don't. Stop.

I began to burn out when my older son hit the early threes.  That's when "Why?" made its initial appearance.  Then my kids got to thinking I know absolutely everything about anything, like I'm Wikipedia or something. 

Here's an example from the time we took them to an amusement park over the summer:

How high is that roller coaster?  I don't know exactly.  Pretty high.
Is it a hundred feet? At least.
Higher? Maybe.
How much higher?  Two-hundred feet? I don't know.
How fast is it? Really fast.
Is it faster than our car? It depends on where we are driving.
What year was it built? What, our car?  2009.
No, the roller coaster.  I don't know. Google it when we get home.

A month later we took a family vacation that involved an airplane.  As we made our descent at the end of the first leg, both kids looked out their respective windows.

How high are we?
Are we as high as the Wind Seeker?
What about the Drop Tower?
We're definitely higher than the Diamond Back, aren't we?
Are there any pyramids this high?

As we got settled into our seats on the next flight, my son started asking me more questions.  I fought back.  I took out my notebook and started writing them down.

Is it three o'clock?
What time is it?
Why did the TV turn off? 
Why do they do that?
[Peering at my notebook] Why is it talking about Wind Seeker?
Why are you writing down all the questions?
I'll try not to ask any more questions, okay?
Are you going to show those to people?
What if there was a fire inside the plane?
The flight attendants aren't the pilots, are they?
Why is there an exit way back here?
What if a shark ate the life raft?
What is this volume button for?
Would you stop writing those down? You're annoying me!
When we get high enough I can unbuckle, right?
What does "airborne" mean?
What's "free of charge"?

At this time he pleaded with me to stop writing the questions down.  His attempts to grab my pen and notebook made the process more challenging that I was willing to put up with, so I acquiesced (NOTE: That's a really big word. Thanks, spell-checker, for your help.)

There was one more series of questions that I had to write down, though.  I did get his permission, but I would have done it anyway.  I had pointed out the window and said, "Look at that huge airplane.  You see the higher row of windows?  It's a double-decker."

So there's stairs in there? Yep.
Have you been in one? Nope.
But you've seen one, haven't you? Really?  You just asked that? Dude, I'm writing that one down...



Stacy McKitrick said...

You make me wish I had done that when my son was 5. He absolutely exhausted everyone with his questions at that age.

Laurel said...

I know the terror of inquisitive offspring. I want to smack the blue-haired people who smile indulgently and tell me to "enjoy these years, they just fly by!"

I once compared it to being in a field full of four-leaf clovers. Finding one here and there is special. When you can't get away from them, the novelty wears off.

Bane of Anubis said...

My wife's kind of like that sometimes :) -- a bit frustrating for me, but I admire the desire to learn (and call me on my bullshit :)

Suzan Harden said...

Rick, if you wanna get 'em back, start singing Lady Gaga or Barry Manilow at the top of your lungs during a car trip. They'll shut up real quick. *grin*

Charlie Rice said...

Believe it or not, I miss those days. There's no point in my kids asking me questions any longer. They know everything.

They ask me for money, that's it.

Happy Birthday tomorrow.

Marisa Hopkins said...

haha, I can soooo relate. Those questions just do. not. STOP?! Only my kids don't ask questions that make ANY sense at all (what's a tink? Is it blue?). Which was fun for a couple of years, but now I enforce a five-question limit. :P

Donna Hole said...

They don't stop at 13 either, or 22 for that matter. The questions just get more uncomfortable. And then, they argue the answers and tell you ya don't know anything.

Your question to them at that point is: So why'd you ask me?


Susan Kaye Quinn said...


This reminds me of Human Source of All Knowledge Day.

Also: I hate words with more than two vowels in a row.

p.s. Tactical advantage to the parents in the rebuff question: "Why do you think?"

Rich said...

Rick, get prepared for the time will come when they ask...??

How do babies get into mommies tummy?
Can they breathe in there?
How do they know when to start breathing?
What makes them a boy or a girl?

And the questions keep on coming! And when they don’t, they think they know it all! Age 12 in your case!!

Rick Daley said...

Stacy- If I would have started when we has 5, I would have depleted 3/4 of the rainforest in search of more paper by the time he was 8!

Laurel- Yes, luck does have a half-life!

Bane- That's one of the benefits of marriage (getting questioned and called on bullshit).

Suzan- Actually, we do that. More like Billy Joel, Pearl Jam, and Peter Gabriel, but we sing like the Griswolds...

Charlie- Thanks for the birthday wishes. I know the tides will turn soon when they hit adolescence, and I am not looking forward to it!

Marisa- The vagueness / incoherence of the question only raises the urgency for an immediate answer.

Donna- I will brace myself for that eventuality.

Sue- That's my favorite reply, especially for "what does this word mean"? Read it in context...

Dad- Yeah, Max has started that line of reasoning...

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

LOL! I have five kids(3-9yo) so I'm BOMBARDED with these kinds of questions everyday. This post made me laugh :)

Rick Daley said...

Shelly- These questions were from two boys, ages 10 and 7. I feel for have more than double the head count, and your kids span from the peak of the "Why" stage to the more inquisitive / harder to answer questions they ask as they grow up.

Good luck!

D.G. Hudson said...

Seen you around but wasn't following, now I am. Hope you'll pop over to my blog, too.

BTW - I was one of those kids that asked millions of questions, and look what I do now - use all that info to write blog posts and books.

How else is a kid to know? It shows how much he admires your knowledge or else, he's testing you. (Google is a good back-up tho')

Rick Daley said...

DG- Following on the Rainforest blog now. Thanks for popping by!

I was an annoying question-asker, too. I think I passed it on to my kids in their genes.

I think he admires the knowledge, but the older one does test us, as we found out that time he lost a tooth but tried to hide it...

Kamille Elahi said...

My cousin's 4 year old attacks me with questions every time I meet him. At least I usually know the answer. I try to answer all of them because I remember what it was like when I used to ask questions and got replies such as:

"I don't know. Don't ask me."

"Be quiet. I have a headache."

"Because I said so."

So if I get asked, "How high is the sky?" I say "About three hundred elephants high."

He tends to just go "Wow! That's amazing." End of question.

The questions are pretty funny though.