I used to think I was pretty smart. That idea came crashing down once I had kids. They have a way of humbling you. Over the past four years I’ve grown very humble. My oldest daughter is the grand inquisitor of the house. From the time she gets up in the morning to the time she goes to bed at night she’s grilling me with incessant questions about everything. My answers unleash another set of questions that go off in a million directions.
The barrage of questions started out simple enough. She’d see a word or a sign and ask what it was. If we were listening to music she’d want to know the name of the song or who was singing the song. As soon as I settled in that routine the questions elevated.
She now had to know what the words she came across meant. It’s fairly difficult to define a word using words that a child understands. I’d go around and around trying to clearly define words in words I thought she could understand. She’d give me a confused look then ask what half the words I used to define the original word meant. It’s a never-ending cycle. When we listen to music she has to know what the song is about and why the song is about that.
It’s not just the volume of questions it’s the type of questions too. My wife gets the easy questions like, “What does spoiled mean?” I get questions like “Why is everything made of something?” How am I supposed to answer that?
She figured out fairly early on that if she asked me a question I would try to answer it. No matter how what it is. She first used this knowledge to stall her bedtime. My wife, wisely, concedes when doesn’t know the answer. Not me. I’m now pouring over historical texts and googling things in preparation for my daily quiz. Whenever I hear “Daaaaddeee…” I’m immediately on my toes. I could be asked something mundane like “How old are you?” or something esoteric about God creating animals. (I once made the mistake of trying to explain evolution to her in response to one of her questions and quickly found out my kid is a staunch creationist.)
I never what’s coming so I have to be prepared. The child even knows how to stroke my ego. “Daddy, you know everything! I want to know everything like you do.” Those bits of encouragement just make me study harder. So if anybody knows what Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal is actually about please let me know. I have a four-year-old impatiently awaiting an explanation.