(Note: A few years ago, I wrote a few posts for a local parenting publication. The following is a post that never ran.)
my professional career, I once heard a wise man say, “It’s OK not to know the answer
to every question you’re asked. You shouldn’t pretend you do. Just say you’ll
find the answer – and then do it.”
That’s easier said
than done when you’re dealing with a 4-year-old.
My son, Billy,
doesn’t ask “why”, but man does he ask questions! I’m lucky if I know the
answers to half of them. Unfortunately, telling him I’ll get back to him is
never the answer he’s looking for.
A few weeks ago,
Billy asked me how bees had babies. Um, um, um. When a mommy bee and a daddy
bee love each other … . Kidding. I stalled and asked him what he meant.
Luckily, he gave me the clue I needed. He wanted to know if they laid eggs or
had “real” babies. Thank goodness I have a smart phone, because mommy is not
up-to-date on bee reproduction. (They lay eggs, in case you were wondering. But
you already knew that, didn’t you?)
My phone and the
Internet have helped me dozens of times since that first occasion. Billy is
full of great questions. Amazing questions. Things I’ve never thought about, or
take for granted, he wants to know. I’m learning as much as he is! (Did you
know, for example, that there are currently active volcanoes in Alaska? Me
Sometimes I make
a game out of finding the answers to Billy’s questions. A lot of times I ask
him what he thinks the answer is before I tell him. But I never pretend to know
answers I don’t. And I don’t try to act like I’m a genius, even though he thinks
I am. I want him to come to me with any question he has – whether it’s about
watermelons or girls. They say if we listen to our kids when they talk about
the small stuff, they’ll come to us with the big stuff. That’s what I want. Ten
years from now when he’s thinking about college, I want my son to come to me. Thirty
years from now when he starts dating, I want him to come to me. And I want him
to value my answers and advice.
I am not always
right. And I won’t always be right. Heck, the Internet isn’t always right. I
could answer his questions with an incorrect (or silly) answer and he’d accept
it. But I want that connection with him. Now – as we dream up stories about bee
babies, cuddle on the couch looking at volcano pictures on my phone and laugh
when he says he has to check with his teacher about whether watermelons are
living because he doesn’t believe me – and down the road.
One of these
days, Billy will figure out I’m not a genius, but for now, thanks, smart phone.
I owe you one!