Saturday, September 11, 2010

Questions don't get easier to answer as children get older, the questions just get harder

Lately, I have discovered parenting isn't about how little you know you know, but how much your kids think you know. I'm wondering how long I can keep up the pretense of being the smartest person in their little universes. The older my boys get, the more thought-provoking their questions. Sometimes it takes me awhile to: 1. Puzzle out what they are actually asking and 2. Come up with a good answer!

I've begun to call them my "Mom-Question-Of-The-Day," because I get at least one, sometimes more, every day.

Often, they are simple procedural questions of "what" "when" or "where". I like those. I'm usually good at answering them. They are the easiest, and usually, quickest questions to answer. Sometimes, though, I unwittingly give an explanation that leaves them more worried than before they asked the question. For instance, when my oldest son asked me to sew up a tear in his big bear, I got out my needle, thread and scissors and started threading the needle. He eyed the scissors and very politely, in a voice full of concern asked, "So I see you have a pair of scissors, Mom. What are you going to do with that?" I don't think my explanation of what I was about to do shored up his confidence in my "surgical" skills. His look of concern intensified and he cautioned me sternly to "Please be careful and not slip." His nerves didn't settle until the bear was out of surgery and he could inspect my work.

Other questions leave me marveling at the active imaginations and thought processes of my children. They are trying very hard to figure out their world, and it is such a joy to be a part of their solutions. This category usually involves the "how's" and "why's" of things. My 4- and 7-year-old sons are pros at asking these. I can tell my 2-year-old is taking mental notes as he listens to the dialogue with rapt attention.

These questions run along the lines of:
1. "Mom, how and why does it rain when the sun is still shining?" ~ from my oldest and middle children
2. "So Mom, Dad didn't go on any trails today, so why is some of the trail mix gone?" ~ from my 7-year-old
3. "Mom, how do you make mud?" ~ from my 4-year-old. I thought to myself, "Finally! One I can answer easily!"

It was followed up a few hours later by:
4. "Mom, how do babies grow in mommies' tummies?" ~ from my 4-year-old, followed by,
5. "Mom, what would happen to me if I wasn't born?" ~ from my 7-year-old

I am beginning to wonder why they never ask their father some of these questions. For instance, I'm sure my husband would have been able to handle the recipe for mud. And he could have explained to our oldest why he ate the trail mix, even though he didn't go on any trails that day. But, alas, they always begin with "Mom, ...." I'm going to have to start studying. Too bad there isn't a parent handbook with the answers to the mysteries of the universe in it!