“I just have so many questions,” was my five-year old’s response one night when I told him he needed to go to sleep. He’s at the stage when he can go on and on asking a multitude of questions on varying topics.
Questions are good. They can help us learn, which is no doubt the objective of my youngest. The latest topic has been the seasons. And as a parent, I think he’s calling me out because my answers don’t really make sense. Try explaining to a five-year old why one day the weather is fall, then for four days we have winter, and then back to fall. The last few weeks have been very confusing for both of us.
Questions also make us think a little deeper, even if they are intended to be simple. The other morning he asked, “Do our bodies stay together or fall apart?” Hmm. At this moment he happened to be eating a messy, crumbling granola bar. I imagine he was hoping our bodies don’t just fall apart like his snack. Not wanting to traumatize him, I told him our bodies stay strong, stay together.
Yet, my mind thought about how age and time wear on us, and yes, sometimes we do start to fall apart. And then, there are the questions that just create more questions. How do I find my purpose? What’s most important to me? What are my strengths? How did I get here? Who can I trust? I know my older kids have hundreds of questions a day, just like any tween and teen.
Yet, when I ask them questions, I often receive short answers. Yep. Nope. It was OK. Fine. Sounds good. As a parent I want more, give me the details, the juice, the worries, the excitement. They open up to me with some questions, and others I’m sure they are too nervous or embarrassed to ask. Why don’t I get invited? How come she can be so mean one day and so nice the next? Why is the teacher expecting us to act like we are adults? Why is the teacher talking to us like little kids? Can’t mom and dad just let me sit for a minute?
What will love be like? Why am I so (blank) today? Fill in the blank with every possible emotion an adolescent experiences daily. As an adult I feel like I’m constantly asking myself questions. Am I doing this parenting/wifing/adulting thing right? Did my mom worry about these things? What’s the next right step? What would Monica Geller do? In all honesty, there are times when I want my youngest to stop asking all the questions.
Trying to answer in a way that makes sense to him, is accurate, and yet not too graphic, well, it can be absolutely exhausting. But then I’m reminded of how I want my older kids to ask more, and frankly, how even at almost forty I’m constantly asking my own questions all the time. I guess it’s not about the questions, or the answers, its about the connections the questions create between each other and within ourselves.