I’m a witty guy – I can come up with some pretty clever thoughts on the fly.
At least that’s what I thought until I had a 4-year-old son.
That boy asks me some of the hardest questions in the world. They’re so difficult, I can’t even make up an answer.
Crash: “What are elephants for?”
Me: “Ummmm…great question!”
Unfortunately, he’s not looking for validation. He already knows it’s a good question – that’s why he asked. He wants an answer.
“What are whiskers for?”
“Why did God give us skunks?”
“What is an election?”
Obviously, some of his questions have easy answers…IF the interviewer wasn’t 4 YEARS OLD. (Try explaining what an election is to anyone born after 2010.)
The other day, my son asked me the mother of all questions….
“What are chiggers for?”
Again, my normally witty self was completely stumped for a response. So, I excused myself to the restroom. It was time for pep talk in the mirror.
Staring at my reflection, I berated myself…
“What is wrong with you?!?!?!?”
“Your son wants answers!”
“What ARE chiggers for?!?!?!?”
“He’s 4 years old – just say anything!”
That last thought stopped me in my tracks. I froze, staring disappointedly at myself in the mirror.
“I can’t just say anything,” I whispered to myself in temporary defeat. “Now, it’s elephants and chiggers – but what’s he going to ask me about 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 30 years from now?”
After a few seconds, I tucked my lips and nodded my head several times, acknowledging that I’d had a revelation and a possible solution.
Crash: “Where did you go, dad?”
Me: “To give myself a pep talk.”
Crash: “What’s a pep talk for?”
Me: “To ensure that you don’t turn out to be a delinquent moron and/or an ax murderer.”
While I was gathering in my thoughts in the bathroom, I realized that I don’t have to have ALL the answers – whether it’s about elephants and chiggers or chemistry and dating.
BUT I also realized that I couldn’t stand there like a baffled deer in the headlights of an 18-wheeler, constantly muttering “great question…great question….great question.”
I decided that I had two options when asked these million dollar questions:
• Option 1 – I could answer my son’s question with a question – get his thoughts on the pressing subject at hand.
Me: “What do you think chiggers are for, Crash?”
This game plan would allow The Boy to give his creative answer or allow us to engage in a healthy discussion about…chiggers. (I promise…he has an answer!)
• Option 2: I could break the news to my son that I’m actually NOT a genius.
Me: “I don’t know what chiggers are for, Brother.
But we can definitely figure it out.”
This goes back to the healthy discussion from Option 1. Nothing says father-son time like a quick Google search.
– – –
I love the fact that my son is so inquisitive. I see other adults get agitated when they get bombarded with “The Whys.”
Child: “Why are we going to the grocery store?”
Adult: “To get groceries…”
Child: “Why do need groceries?”
Adult: “Because we’re out of milk, bread and fruit…”
Child: “Why are we out of those things?”
Adult: “Because we ate them…”
Child: “ Why did we eat them?”
Adult: “Get. Out. Of. The. Car.”
Don’t get me wrong, I reach the end of my rope from time to time when the questions start flying – but I’m hoping that my new game plan turns these “interviews” into a positive experience.
The key: Perspective.
I constantly remind myself that kids are sponges, trying to soak as much in as they possibly can. They’re not being malicious in any shape, form or fashion.
My 4 year old doesn’t wake up in the morning and think to himself…
“How can I annoy my dad today?”
“Yesterday I asked ‘why’ 18 times in a row…
I wonder if I can break that record today.”
“What is the most ridiculous thing I can ask my dad about today?”
– – –
Lastly, I wanted to put my game plan into action and share the results.
Crash: “Do you remember that skunk that was at our house?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Crash: “Me too. Why did it stink?”
Me: “Why do you think skunks stink?”
Crash: “Because they spray out their butts…”
Crash: “To make things stinky.”
Me: “What does it smell like?”
Crash: “Lion throw-up.”
Me (trying not to laugh): “Have you ever smelled lion throw-up.”
Crash: “No, sir.”
Me: “Why haven’t you smelled lion throw up?”
Crash: “I’m tired of talking about this, daddy.”