All kids ask questions like a boss, really. You know how that little boy in Jerry Maguire knew the human head weighed eight pounds? He asked his mom. That was one smart mom; she didn’t even have Google. Or Siri. Or Cortana.
Parenting a four year old is really just dodging an onslaught of questions about everything. Even yet, it’s doing that while driving your kids to soccer practice/gymnastics class/swim lessons because this is the age when they can start doing all the extracurricular things.
There may have been a time when you said, with complete confidence and angst, something like this: “Why do we have to learn about parabolas? I will, like, totally never use parabolas in real life.”
If so, your kid will straight up ask you about parabolas. What’s a parabola? Is it colorful? Does it taste funny? Can I eat it? Is it a cat? Am I a parabola?
I could handle the questions at two years old. “An octopus has eight legs, honey, and those legs are called tentacles. You’re so cute!”
The questions get harder. For real. In college, I had this recurring anxiety dream in which I forgot about a science class until the day before the final. I either had to cram for the final or pretend I didn’t know I had registered for the class.
It’s like that.
Below are some questions my son asked me this week.
1. What does a mole look like?
The animal. Do you know? Have you ever looked at a picture of a mole? It’s cute until you see the nose. It’s called a star nose. I call it the inspiration for the background of The Twilight Zone logo.
2. Why is the moon out during the day?
I remember many things from the astronomy class I took in college. I remember sitting in the middle of the front row and slapping my cheeks to stay awake – it didn’t work. I remember the professor drawing a parabola (parabolas get me every time). I remember being very disappointed that we weren’t learning about greek mythology and the constellations. Anything about actual space? Yeah… I don’t remember that. I really wanted space to be my thing; it just isn’t. Let’s go buy some space books, kid.
3. What is a volcano?
Volcanos! The opposite of space. Maybe more my thing. But still science, so… let’s buy some more books, kid. Is it sad that I totally forgot about the word magma until we read said books? I will assume that you said no, it’s not sad at all. But this song from the Disney short film, Lava, is super cool.
4. What happens when you swallow gum?
I know, seven years, but that just doesn’t seem scientifically accurate and my track record with science is on fleek, so… You’re not allowed to chew gum until you’re ten.
5. What does Frankenstein look like?
Ah! Literature! Pop culture! Finally, my comfort zone. We talk about Mary Shelley. We look at pictures of Frankenstein. We watch a short youtube cartoon. We talk about other cartoon characters we know that are also from books. I envision myself reading books to my son like the grandfather reads to the kid in The Princess Bride. My son will read fervently like the kid in The Never Ending Story. I consider this a win.
6. What’s a TV made out of?
Light bulbs and electronics. Do you want some candy?
7. What does a tummy look like?
No, Brobie from Yo Gaba Gaba, no one wants to go to the party in your tummy. This one is not actually hard to answer; cartoons like Bubble Guppies and Yo Gabba Gabba answer it for me. I also have a book and educational toy about body parts. I will own any and all body parts conversations.
My son hurt his neck once. Like any reasonable parent, I freaked out and took him to get an X-ray. It turned out to be a crick, but on the bright side, we got these cool X-rays of his actual bones. It’s not dorky that I am excited about this at all. We have already established that I am cool, re:astronomy class.
And finally, in succession, during the car ride to church on Easter Sunday…
8. Does a car eat candy?
9. How does a car drink gas?
Oh, you mean–
10. Is gas hot?
Um, no, but you still can’t touch gas.