The other day I was sitting in the kitchen with my 8 years old and he asked me a question. I don’t remember exactly what he asked, but I know we started a discussion so I could answer his question. As I was explaining the ins and outs of the subject at hand he asked me another question. This launched us into another discussion which lead to another question. Thirty minutes later my son took a breath and said “I have another question” to which feeling a bit drained I responded “yes, what is it?” His response not only made me chuckle, but also reminded me of how much fun raising kids is, he asked “how did we get on this topic?”
Kids are a blank canvass and have a great desire to learn and explore. I forget sometimes as I talk to my kids, that at their various ages I may be using words or phrases they may have not yet learned. Of course they just don’t sit by and let it go, they immediately want to know what you are saying. The other lesson I learned is that even if my kids didn’t know what I was saying, they still would listen in to what my wife and I would talk about. Often, later when they had the attention of one of us they would ask a question about what they heard earlier. My kids have a great ability to remember things for long periods of time.
I think most parents can relate to the phase of your kids life when no matter what you say, or how you answer a question you are met with the word “Why” or the phrase “What is/does…” All my kids have a different approach, but each one has never let me get by with a “because I say so” or “that is just how it is.” I do hope you never have to encounter that moment when you tell your kids you don’t know something, because with my kids I believe there was a brief moment the world was going to end. Once their initial shock of the “I don’t know” response wore off, I received a hearty reading of the riot act on how I was Daddy and I knew everything. I am told that at some point that view changes and I will suddenly know nothing because they will know everything.
Once we were on vacation at a condo at the beach. My oldest son noticed that there were pictures of other people and because curious as to why there were books and DVDs where we were staying. We had him sign the book the owners left for all guests to sign and explained to him that someone owned this and we were renting it. A day or two later my son asked my why people would rent their home on the beach to strangers. I explained that it was their vacation home and in order to afford it they let other people help them pay for it, even perhaps made some money themselves. My son again asked why people would do such a thing, to which I responded it was an investment. “What is an investment?” was his next question, at which point my wife laughed at me because she knew I opened a can of worms. A few months later when my son returned to school the teacher asked everyone to share a picture from their summer and talk about what they had done. My son showed a picture of the beach and when asked by his teacher where he stayed (i.e. which beach) he gave a ten minute discussion on investment properties.
I could tell countless stories, but here is a short one. If you follow me on twitter you sometimes get to see, almost in real time, exchanges between my kids and I. I expect one day they will hate me for this, but for now they find just as much humor as I do. My 3 year old son has this quirk where out of now where he will look at me and say “What daddy?” I believe he things I just said something, that is my best guess, but my general response back to him is to ask the question back “What?” At first the exchange will go back and forth between us without either of us changing our stance, but eventually he gets frustrated and either stares me down or declares “I said what daddy!” No matter how I try to approach this to explain I have no idea why he is asking me what or even answering him by telling him I said nothing in the first place, he still remains very annoyed. I imagine this is how it would have felt to be in the old “Who’s on first” skit. At some point he will walk away shaking his head and tell Mommy that “Daddy is being mean.”
Some may find the endless questions annoying or unnerving, but I really enjoy those times with my kids. I definitely learn a lot, not only about how they think, but about how we learn. The small things make them happy. Besides, once they discover the internet you will become obsolete. Time to respond to a new search request, “Daddy! Why does…..”