Thursday, June 24, 2010

lesson twenty four | a child's mind is like a giant sponge

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” – Walt Streightiff

The other day, I read this quote on the back of the sticky adhesive of a Libra Goodnight pad: "On average, a four-year-old child asks 437 questions a day."

Okay, you probably didn't need to know where I found the quote, but the point remains: The number is an average. Which means there are children who ask less than 437 questions. And there are children who ask more.

I would put my son Madison in the category of the latter. Someone's kid has to. Otherwise, how could Libra (or their marketing company's statistical data) have calculated that ridiculously high average?

Today, I broke down his questions into the following four categories:

1. Questions I know the answer to:
These are my favourite questions. These are the questions that make me sound all wise, all knowing, all very intelligent. These are the ones that I'm patient with, and spend time answering him in full detail. I want to make sure he gets the whole picture.

2. Questions I don't know the answer to:
If there are easy questions, there are also hard ones. And I don't like these questions for obvious reasons (see above). And then I say "That's a great question!", or "let's talk about that one later" (after Mummy has googled it so she can find out what the answer is before she tells you).

3. Questions that only have one answer (the one he doesn't like):
I think you all know what I'm talking about here. It doesn't need any explaining.

4. Questions that can't be answered:
Like today in the shopping centre, a lady walked past. Madison asks: “Who is that old lady?” Or the time we were at the pool change village and a man in a wheelchair rolls past: “Why is that man in a wheelchair?” A jogger runs past our house: "Why is that person running funny?" I simply can't answer these questions.

There are days when I relish in his sponge-like behaviour, and other times when I just want to bang my hand against the wall. But the questions are mostly good. Sometimes I see things in a whole new light. Like the time when he picked me a flower from the garden. When it had wilted, he asked: “Why is the flower sagging?” It broke my heart to tell him the flower had died because it had been picked. We just accept stuff (or it's been so long since we asked the same questions), but it was really sad for him. He wished he hadn't picked it. And then I had to explain that the flower would die later anyway if he hadn't picked it. He certainly did look puzzled at that stage.

But what amazes me the most is how many times the same questions are asked over and over. That's after I've tried answering it, avoiding it, approaching it differently... you name it. Some answers just don't make any sense.

At the end of today, he was clean, fed and ready for bed. I love story time. But it comes at the end of the day, I'm tired and all out of patience. And when there's a million questions during the story, I confess I'm less than enthusiastic.

But the last question I had to field today was this one: "Can Daddy read me a bedtime story tonight?"

And the rest is history...

This post was part of Weekend Rewind 26 February 2011 at Life in a Pink Fibro


  1. I think Maddison is so funny. Laura has put me in some very uncomfortable positions, like when she told the lady in Myer that she was fat. She was only stating the obvious and Laura didnt know that there was anything wrong with being fat, to her it was just observation. Then I told her that you dont have to say that to people and she now has a complex that she is fat herself. Parenting is mind exhausting!

  2. Love it - Alesia is full of questions also...and each answer I give seems to lead to another question....

  3. Great post!

    My 4yo is def the latter of that average! I was just thinking today how darn much he asks when we're driving around. The questions come thick and fast. It's the 'Why?' question that gets me every time.

    4yo: "Why is that building SO big, Mummy?"
    Me: "It was built that way so a lot of people could live in it."
    4yo: "Why?"
    Me: "Well, a lot of people need somewhere to live, and sometimes they big tall buildings so they can find a place for lots of people to live."
    4yo: "Why?"
    Me: "Becauuuse...they do."
    4yo: "Why?"


  4. Hi from the weekend rewind. You've just made me feel good about the fact that my 16 month-old is nowhere near talking, let alone asking why why why!

  5. Lovely post. I understand the sadness when explaining about death. Such a tricky area. But they soon get over it, always more questions to ask about something else.

  6. I have two classic examples that stick out in my mind as only-snobear-could've-asked-that-one type questions: 1. When it is king tide does the water level in the middle of the bay go down? 2. if the sky is blue because it reflects the sea why is it blue out in the desert?
    And I'll add another category - the 'what if' type questions. You know, the ones where they come up with the most unlikely, ridiculous and extreme outcomes of the scenario you are are discussing and then ask 'what if X happens?' That category can be quite tiring...
    meanwhile, it just show how intellegent your little man is :-)

  7. Great post. You know where I stand on questions - I am inundated by them, and I also ask a million myself. I'm all for it. And Google is a mum's best friend!

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!


Thank you for your thoughtful and positive words and taking the time to comment. Love Kymmie. xx