Questions are good.
They’re even better than answers, and should be encouraged and celebrated.
Children figure out the world by asking questions, and the adults who’ve lost this habit are often best avoided. The younger they lose it, the more so.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers,” said Voltaire.
“Seek truth…question everything,” advised Socrates.
“Please. Stop. Enough. Aaaarrrgghh!” said me, this morning, in a display of parenting whose quality might best be described as ‘variable’.
Have you ever had a crow peck persistently at your head as you simultaneously attempt to complete a series of domestic tasks?
This is not my idea for a new Saturday night reality TV show, but a standard weekday morning in my house. The crows are my two young kids, and the head is mine. At the risk of over-explaining a simple metaphor, the pecking is the questions.
(The domestic tasks are domestic tasks.)
If I’ve managed eight hours of unbroken sleep and have a full hour to clear up the aftermath of breakfast, get everyone dressed, and leave the house in good time for work/school, then I’m all ears.
I will answer every question thrown my way and give interesting creative responses. I will relish the opportunity to fill my young boys’ heads with something approaching wisdom and good sense.
If I’ve had five hours sleep, woken once to manage a bad dream and once to wipe a bottom, and we all have to leave the house in twenty minutes despite the fact that one of us has lost our trousers, and one of us thinks that unpeeled bananas belong down the toilet, then less so.
If one of us also has to give a presentation in forty-five minutes to a room full of men in suits, then we’re in trouble.
The crows descend.
“Quick…upstairs…teeth…where are your trousers…what’s that smell…put him down…PUT HIM DOWN…have you fed the fish…what’s that stain…?” I say.
“Yes! WHAT!?” I bark.
“Erm. You know humans used to be monkeys…like… a long time ago?” the apple of my eye continues, patiently.
“Yes…monkeys…why don’t your shoes match…why is your brother in that cupboard!?”
“Erm…the first time a monkey turned into a human, where did he buy his clothes from?”
“Because monkeys are quite long aren’t they? So did they sell monkey clothes in human shops, or were there different shops for the monkeys?”
It’s a great question – you can’t knock the lad. Given enough time and space we could go to town on this one and squeeze out a good ten minutes of fun.
But we’re late. And in a degree of chaos. And his brother is stuck in a cupboard.
And the crows are pecking.