Monday, May 3, 2010

Do worms have eyes? (and other curious questions)

Why do they call them reindeer if they live where it snows?

When I was a little baby, did you have to remind me to breathe?

If pork comes from a pig, does ham come from a hamster?

Yep. Kids say the darndest things. We parents think we're so cool - like we know everything. Then some wide-eyed eight year old pops up with "If you were sucked into a tornado, would the wind be hot or cold?" and I'm stammering like Elmer Fudd.

My youngest son has been particularly astute lately. Usually his questions occur during our nightly snuggle time. I don't know if he saves them all for me or if finally stopping that little body from moving at bedtime engages his brain even more. Lately, his ponderings have been God related, like:

"Why is heaven so great if we're dead when we get there?"
"Do the people who commit suicide go to hell?"
And the toughest one, "Why does God make good people get killed?"

Serious questions with no easy answers. I don't know if I'd rather try to explain those or the ones on an even more touchy subject:

Son: (Points at my belly button) "Mom, did I come out of there?"
Me: "No."
Son: "Well then where did I come out of?"
Me: (Point below my belly button.)
Son: (Horrified expression; leaves room.)

or

"Mom, if Brendan and I are going to be the daddies, who's going to make the babies?"

Usually I can blurt out a couple of carefully-worded sentences and he's done wanting an explanation. I've learned to say a little and wait for questions; if none come, I've said enough - for now.

Thank God for Google. If I had a nickel for every time I've exclaimed, "That's a great question, Honey. Let's go look it up!" I'd be a rich woman.

But my son's inquisitive mind got me to thinking: Do we lose that curiosity as we get older? Does our thirst for knowledge dwindle amidst the day to day facts and figures that occupy our brains? Or are we just afraid of sounding stupid?

I know I'm probably guilty on both counts. I have questions. Lots of them. But I'm smart enough to know that I'm dumb enough not to know the answer. For instance, which way is west? Why do some people like certain foods and others don't? And why when I see blue do others see purple, and vice-versa?

I know someone out there knows... and I guess I really don't care all that much or I'd figure it out for myself. But I do think that kids truly want to know the answers - and sometimes they aren't easy. Sometimes kids' questions make us realize that we really DON'T know as much as we thought we did. I know I turn into an idiot every time my older son asks me a history question - a subject I think I pretty much slept through in high school. But sometimes the answers aren't cut and dried - like the controversial subjects. I know I try to be very careful in how I word the answer to a question like "Why are those two men holding hands?" I feel as if I owe my kids the freedom of their own beliefs, so do I share mine - or just state the facts?

I'm sure there's lots of opinions out there on how to handle kid inquisitions on all subjects, but just keep in mind - these questions usually come out of nowhere, and I have a split second to give an answer or make an impression before the opportunity is gone for good. I can usually come up with something, but I will admit - I have been stumped before. Like the time I was angry, and while making a slicing motion at my neck said, "I've had it up to HERE!" to which my son replied innocently, "But Mom! Look at how much you have left!"

Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. This blog had me laughing so hard. We are just getting into the 'where to babies come from' questions. I'm really at a loss for words sometimes because we just taught the proper terminology for all the body parts, after using made up words since about birth. I'm not quite ready to explain how babies are made. Part of being a parent is being able to come up with that perfect explanation in 2 seconds time without giving too much away.

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