I love educating my daughter, and much of the joy of preschooler-parenting comes from answering the brilliant little questions she comes up with on a daily basis. When she asks charming questions like, “Does a giraffe sleep standing up like a horse?” I’m happy to help her find the answer. But there are some questions that I hope I don’t hear again– at least, not for a few weeks.
Here are some of the questions I really wish my three-year-old would stop asking me.
1. “How are babies made?” This question, repeated with uncomfortable frequency, is ultimately my fault. We breed rabbits and I wasn’t shy about telling my daughter that the babies stay in their mommy’s womb until they’re ready to be born. The problem then became the stream of questions that followed, like: “How did the babies get in there? How does a daddy put babies inside the mommy? What does a daddy have if he doesn’t have a uterus? Did my daddy put me inside you? How did he do that? Why won’t you tell me until I’m older? Why won’t you tell me until I’m older, Mom? Why won’t you tell me?” There is only one non-awkward, appropriate way I can answer these questions right now: ignore them.
2. “How do you spell…?” I love that my daughter’s learning to spell, and there are few things that give me greater joy than receiving a hand-made card that reads, “i LoVE MAMA.” The problem is that I have to answer about thirty “How do you spell…?” questions every single afternoon, because she hasn’t memorized the correct spelling of many words yet. She’ll write an entire page of text by asking, “How do you spell ‘once?’ How do you spell ‘there?’ How do you spell ‘were?’ How do you spell ‘fairies?'” and so on. It’s charming and wonderful, but certainly gets old after a while.
3. “What does purple donkey cloud rabbit go under, when it’s thirty-five o’clock on Septicember fourteenth?” My daughter often asks bizarre questions that seem to have no correct answer, no context, and no meaning whatsoever. I usually respond by blinking several times and then asking, “Wait, WHAT?” Then I simply hear a repetition of the same nonsensical question. I want her to stop asking these questions, because “I don’t know” isn’t the right answer, but– because I can’t crawl into my daughter’s mind– I have no clue what the right answer is.
4. “What does [unintelligible word] mean?” My daughter loves learning new words, and this is great. But she often recalls a word days later and can’t remember or pronounce it correctly, leaving me scratching my head and feeling stumped until I manage to figure out what she’s asking. And if I don’t figure it out, she gets incredibly upset. She asked me days ago, “What does ‘eye poff bed sickle’ mean?” and I later realized she was trying to say ‘hypothetical.'” Next, I have to struggle to define complex terms in toddler-friendly language. This is one guessing game that I’m tired of playing, as happy as I am that my daughter is learning new words and concepts.
5. The Big Questions. “Is God real?” “Why don’t I have a daddy anymore?” “Is it ever, ever okay to hit somebody?” “Why do people die?” “Why are some people so mean?” These kinds of questions are the ones I really wish I didn’t have to answer, because I ultimately don’t have an answer. In my daughter’s eyes, I am omniscient and can give her a factual, un-opinionated response to anything she throws at me– and she’ll be in for a shock the day she realizes how little I really know. Until that day, I’ll keep answering her questions as well as I can– perhaps, at times, reluctantly.