KENZIE: “How much air do you blow into a balloon before it pops?”
ME: [As she starts to blow up a balloon] “I suppose until there’s enough air pressure inside the balloon that the latex begins to stress and…” [POP]
KALEB: “If you blow on a fire will it go out?”
ME: “No, when you blow on a fire it makes it burn bigger. Water makes a fire go out.”
KALEB: “So, if you pee on a fire will it go out?”
ME: “Son, I don’t believe that’s a good idea. You might….oh, never mind.”
The kids are starting to ask me these enigmatic questions that I don’t know the answer for. I mean, they are asking me questions about things I’ve never really given much consideration, let alone be able to explain in terms a child could understand.
They are asking questions about the physical properties of the universe, the meaning of life, the nature of God, history, anthropology, astronomy, zoology, anatomy and physiology…
And, I used to think I was a rather clever guy, a deep thinker, a well-informed person. But, this 6-year-old and this 7-year-old are posing questions that are utterly incomprehensible–at least to us lesser beings!
KENZIE: [Putting her running shoes on her feet] “Am I running out of fast, Dad?”
ME: “If you mean are you shoes wearing out, Sis, I think they still have a little fast left in them!”
KALEB: “Dad, do robbers steal things from your house?”
ME: “If you already know the answer to your question, Son, then why are you asking me?”
These inexplicable questions are spawned, I suppose, by their inscrutable curiosity.
It’s why this, why not that? How? When? Where?
And, when I try to give a response, I soon realize that I don’t know the answer to their question. I. JUST. DON’T. KNOW!
Yet, “I don’t know” doesn’t seem to satisfy their curiosity and give them closure to whatever esoteric question that is on their mind at the moment.
KENZIE: “Do insects have privates?”
ME: “I don’t know. I suppose so. I’ve never really thought about it… Ummm, yes, I’m sure they do!”
KALEB: “How far is it to heaven?”
ME: “I don’t know, Son. Well, I don’t know exactly how far, but it takes awhile to get there!”
KALEB: “How long?”
ME: “A lifetime, I guess. Yes, it takes a lifetime!”
It seems that I need to go back and re-think some things. I thought I had it all figured out until they started asking all these cryptic questions. Nowadays, all I’m certain about is my uncertainty about the answer to their questions.
Still, I am a parent–and a grandparent. So, what I am lacking in human intelligence I make up for with parental cunning and craftiness…
Now that school has started, instead of responding to their arcane questions with a brainless “I don’t know,” I now tell them that their question is something they will soon learn at school.
“Go ask your teacher,” I tell them.
Yes, as it turns out, I am quite a clever guy!