Albert Einstein once said, "it's a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."
It's true, and in our home, the apples haven't fallen far from the tree. I am an unusually curious, bold person to begin with, and, of course, I make a living out of asking questions. My children are already quick to follow.
The problem is, I don't have all the answers. Why did I ever think I would?
Last night, I was putting my 7-year old smart-boy to bed, and he wanted to know about --of all things-- the Revolutionary War. WTH? He's seven. He simply wanted to know if it came before or after the Civil War because if it came before, it meant there was a drummer boy, but if it came after, it meant there was no drummer boy. How does he know these things?
"Before." I answered. "I'm almost certain," I qualified (embarrassed that I didn't have the exact dates and information; embarrassed that I wasn't even 100% certain of my response). "Well, mom," (I know when he calls me just "mom," as opposed to "momma" or "mommy," it means it's real), he suggested, "surely you can get on your computer right now to find out and come tell me before I fall asleep."
I told him I would look it up and tell him more in the morning. But as soon as he fell asleep, and I rushed to look it up just to make sure I gave the right answer (ego).... Indeed, the Revolutionary War lasted from 1775-1783, and the Civil War began in 1861.
Mostly though, their questions are mundane. I hesitate to call them mundane, because aren't those beautiful, ridiculous, insane 'mundane' moments the ones that make up the precious fabric of our lives? Two days ago, 5-year old princess asked, "Mommy, why is big brother older than me? My birthday is in October and his is in December, so I'm really older than him, right momma?"
"No sweet girl. You were born two years later than him," I answered, my heart smiling inside my chest.
It continued on... "but what does born mean, mommy?"
(LORD, I'm thinking....) "Sweetie, it means the time you came into the world."
"From your tummy?" she asked, her voice sounding just angelic.
She paused, her eyes drifting onto one spot, looking as though she were in deep, deep thought. And then it went on..."Momma, how do you spell born?"
(RIPPING MY HAIR OUT AT THIS POINT, but loving every second of it......)
"B - O - R - N."
Later, we were driving to our mommy-daughter dinner and passed a police car, and it started again.
"Momma, why do 'polices' have guns?"
I gave some non-descript answer about how they have to protect us, and then once we got to the restaurant, one after another.
The lights dimmed, and Curious Girl was all over it.
"Mommy. It just got dark in here. WHY did they turn the lights down?" The waiter, as if on-cue, showed up, and I made him answer!
Then, it got a little more complex. "Where is God, momma?"
I told her He was in every living being, in our hearts, and all around us every day. It seemed to suffice..... for now anyway. I'm sure I'll be asked more on that very soon....
But the question that really got me came the other day. I was on the phone with the vet, setting up an appointment to get the dog neutered. The second I hung up, baby girl started in. "Why does the dog have to be 'noodled' mommy?"
Big brother smiled at me and helped answer. "It's 'neuter' not noodle."
"But what does that mean?" she was relentless.
He had quite the answer. "It means they're cutting his balls off."
Her face dropped, and she looked at me all sad and confused and freaked.
I said, "sweetie, it just means Scout won't be able to have babies."
"But momma, I want him to have babies. PLEEEEEASE don't get him noodled!"
I tried explaining the whole pet population thing and how we'd have to find the puppies' homes, but her eyes still welled with tears. "But he will hurt, momma." She was so worried about the surgery and if the pup would be in pain, it nearly crushed even me.
I assured her we would all take very good care of him. She paused and her eyes drifted off again like the last time, deep in thought. She looked at me with wet eyes, and she climbed into my lap for a long, sweet hug.
I realized then that my children humble me. Every single day, I yield to their presence, their questions. Instead of greeting them with my own bold curiousness, I defer. Instead of thinking what to ask next, I wait excitedly for their next questions. I know they'll be good.