We all know it, that tone. That tone a kid gets when they have a question that needs answered and answered now. The high pitched up inflection question that parents brace for. “What is coming?” We ask ourselves taking in a deep breath. There’s no way to prep.
I read somewhere that a four year old averages 400 questions a day. I do not remember the source, but it seems like a low number. “Why?” is a question asked no less than at every moment of the day around here. Its cousin “but, why?” is common too. It is an awfully big world out there and there are plenty of questions to be asked.
Questions are great. Taxing on the patience, but great. Coming up with answers at the speed the oldest desires is fun. It is like taking an improv class where the instructor is a Cold War era gymnastics coach. Demanding, might fall over at any given moment and knows just enough of the language to pass.
I am getting pretty good at quick responses to questions that should be hypothetical, but most certainly need an answer. Like this totally real example, “centaurs are hungry?” What? That is generally my first response, but it is no answer. Centaurs are hungry only under a new moon on Thursdays. That’s an answer. He nodded and went about his play. I did not even get a follow up, “why?” Which was even worse because I really wanted to know why in the middle of cooking dinner he was concerned for hungry centaurs.
The question game firstborn enjoys most now is the, “I have a question even though I should be sleeping” variant. A spin on the classic “can I have a glass of water” get out of bedtime game. Half asleep questions have become my favorite. For as out of the blue centaur dining habit questions seem, it made sense at the time. We were cooking and he talks about Percy Jackson with school friends. There was a logical step. Well, a four year old logical step.
Up top there you’ll find a picture of baby shoes, quite well worn. So far it has had nothing to do with any portion of the text. Here’s the part where everything comes together; it’ll be fun!
The firstborn was nearly asleep, but wiggled his way off his bed. The sounds of heavy feet on hardwood rang from his darkened room and he ran to me, wordless and blind as his glasses sat on his bedside table. He stood in the doorway of my bedroom and stared inside. It was the creepiest thing. I was sure he was sleep walking, but as I went to help him back to his room he asked my favorite question yet:
“Daaaaaad? What’s Velcro?”
Deep breath. “Goodnight, buddy.”