Muuuuum, where / why / how / when <insert anything from the location of one’s teddy to creating a hoverboard>?!
The exclamation mark is also necessary, as any question is always (always!) asked with the kind of urgency grown-ups reserve for floods, fires and the upcoming visit of the in-laws.
The wise ones say there is a ‘why’ period around age four. My observations show that there is a much longer period, starting at around the time children learn to formulate sentences and ending… I don’t know when, a period which should be labelled with a humongous (littleD’s adjective du jour) question mark. At least, ever since bigD discovered question word order he (and later his brother) has been asking questions nineteen to the dozen.
Questions come in different shapes and sizes, and, of course, not all questions are created equal.
There is the request disguised as a question (one grown-ups are especially guilty of, no wonder kids pick it up). Every practising parent is familiar with this one: beginning with “Can I…?” and ending with staying up 5 more minutes (at 10 pm), eating more chocolate (after having had two puddings) or getting that giga-mega plastic thing no self-respecting toy store manager should have put in the shop window in the first place.
Then there is, of course, the “Why?” question. More often than not, it concerns the reasons why one’s sibling was allowed two more minutes on the iPad, why one has to wash hands after coming in from the garden or why one’s parents can play games on their phones after bedtime.
Then there are the backhanded ones, the questions that keep you on your toes and remind you that children see and hear everything, and have a keen sense of fairness and justice.
However, my favourite ones are the questions revealing their curiosity about the world and their sometimes unexpected viewpoints and observations. When bigD was in year 2, his class went for a walk around the neighbourhood and their task was make two columns on the paper and write down things they see: man-made or natural. I was a parent helper accompanying them and helping with their sorting: fence, road, buggy to man-made; sky, trees, dogs to natural. Halfway through the walk I was confronted with the question of the day: “Mum, are babies man-made or natural?” Erm…
As it happens, I don’t always have a ready answer for them. Sometimes they don’t have the patience to listen to my answer; at other times, they are not interested in it. Nonetheless, I am willing to put up with the “Can I?”-s as long as there are questions about hoverboard-creation as well. Questions are how we learn about the world around us, so 2D, bring it on! In the meantime, can I have some chocolate, please?