Always Asking Questions
Published: August 16, 2006
It was about three weeks ago when I realized that my three year old son was asking a lot more questions then usual. The questions began as really simple ones, such as the one he asked when we were driving in the car one day. He looked out the window and asked “Mommy, why is that guy walking with his bike across the road?”
“That’s because it’s safer to walk your bike across an intersection sometimes instead of riding it,” I replied, and he nodded quite seriously, staring out the window contented with my answer.
Another rainy day he asked me “Mommy, why are there puddles out there?” “
Well, it has been raining out and the rain has made little pools of water on the road and we call them puddles”, I answered feeling very intelligent.
“Why?” he asked again. “Why is it raining?”
This caught me off guard. “Well…..it’s raining because that’s nature’s way of making sure that all the plants and trees and flowers get a drink of water and it keeps us cool when it is hot out for too many days”. This seemed to satisfy him and I was happy that I was able to answer all of his questions.
The next day, I wasn’t feeling so smug when he asked me why there were clouds in the sky. And then he asked me why they moved and why they were up so high and why he couldn’t touch them and why they were white and why they sometimes weren’t in the sky……you get the picture.
And when I couldn’t answer all of his questions to his satisfaction he said, “Tell me, tell me, TELL ME!” As if I was intentionally keeping some wonderful, mysterious secrets to myself and not sharing them with him.
I explained that sometimes I didn’t have all the answers but that I was trying to answer them as best as I could. I could tell that he didn’t quite believe me, as he asked me why again.
He will switch off to my husband if I cannot answer his barrage of questions at any given time during an evening. My husband has attempted to “turn the tables” on him, by asking him what he thought the answer was. My son doesn’t like this “cop out” as he just reverts back to me with his line of questioning.
The questioning also happens whenever we are out and can occur at any given moment during a nice family walk or outing. He has now prefaced his questioning with “Mommy…..I have a question for you……” and I brace myself for the line of questioning that can sometimes continue for up to five minutes – I wonder, is this what criminals face when they undergo a line of questioning by Police? Somehow, I think they have it easier.
And as I sit there, patiently listening to all his questions, wishing that I was more intelligent, and could quench his thirst for answers, I’ve caught myself thinking – “Wow, good point, why is it like that?”
From what I’ve read and understand about preschoolers and their thirst for answers at this age, is that they are trying to make sense of the world around them. It’s as if a light bulb just went off in their minds that there is a great big world out there that is greater than the world they have been focusing on, in their own home. I don’t ignore his questions, and have resisted saying “because I said so” (I had a boss who once said that to me, and it infuriated me).
I don’t want to shut his questions down because he has a right to know and if I can answer them, I certainly try. I’ve discovered patience is the key. His questions may continue one after another, but they last only a few minutes and then he will focus on something else. It is a successful day for us if I have been able to answer at least one round of his questioning.
This evening after dinner, he said to me “Mommy…..I have a question for you…….” and I took a deep breath, waiting for what I assumed would be another line of questioning more thought provoking than the previous round that day, and I prepared myself mentally.
“Will you play with me?” He asked with a smile. “Absolutely”, I sighed with relief.
Some questions are still simply answered, after all.