I have twin nine year olds and an eight year old. Questions are my life…all day, every day, over and over again until I think that my head is going to explode. They are well timed. They arrive when I am in the middle of a scene in a story, they arrive when I am on my way to fetch something from the other room and effectively that thing is chased from my mind and my mission is abandoned. I often ask my children whether or not they have been given secret direct instructions, before they were born, to drive me completely insane.
“Where are the crackers? What time is it? Are we going to the store today? When is dad coming home? What day is today? Where is my other shoe? What is the biggest volcano ever? Where is India? Why does she get dessert? When are we going on a bike ride? Why can’t we go to see a movie? Can we get McDonalds? Who was the seventeenth president? How long would it take to get to mars if you could travel there by rowboat? What is the longest roller coaster? What is sugar made of? Why does the dog lick her butt?”
And my all-time favorite:
“Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? MOM!”
“Oh, nothing………………….I forgot.”
The craziest part is that I really want for them to ask me questions. Smart successful kids are kids that are curious. They are kids that are not afraid to ask questions about the world they think is so interesting. It is really hard to find the patience to field all of them. Really hard! I’m no master, but I can give you three ideas that I hope will be helpful to you. They have been invaluable to me.
Idea #1: The Car.
I use the car to try and field questions when they aren’t just coming at me rapid fire. If I can engage my kids while I have them trapped and bored in the backseat, then it may actually lessen the number of questions that fly in my direction later in the day. It is a big help that I do not let my kids take electronics along in the car. This way I have their complete attention. I engage in subjects that I think they may be concerned about, or things that they may have mentioned to me before when I was busy. I always answer all of their questions with honesty.
Idea #2: Google it.
I do not know everything. Duh. My kids do not yet know this, although I remind them of it often. They ask me questions that I cannot answer. I find it really sad when I see parents giving their kids misinformation because they are afraid for their kids to find out they don’t know the answer. We Google stuff. Obviously, I need to be very careful about this, because depending on the subject; there is no limit to what could pop up in front of my kid. It requires supervision. We wait if this comes at an inconvenient time, and my kids are pretty understanding about it. In addition, sometimes they get really excited about the information that we find online.
Idea #3: Tuesday
This was an idea born out of necessity. I think that it started as soon as they learned to talk. I do this thing: When they ask me a question and my mind is so boggled that I think my head is going to explode I answer “Tuesday.” No matter what the question is the answer is Tuesday. It’s a little strange and it can be a bit confusing, but overtime it has turned in to my method of deflecting them. They have learned by now that when they ask me something and I answer Tuesday, I am way too overwhelmed at the moment and they are not going to get a reasonable answer. So they give up and go away and give me some time to get a grip. It works.
It is really important that our kids ask questions, as annoying as they can be it is important that we keep doing our best to respond. Good luck!