Her favourite times to indulge this pastime at the moment are: when she’s gardening with Daddy; when she should be going to sleep; whenever anybody is trying to do anything requiring any level of concentration; when I’m cooking. But above and beyond all these, the best time to ask questions is Dinner Time.
Dinner Time has a couple of advantages over the other scenarios. Firstly, all three of us are sitting in the same place, trapped there by our hunger and table manners. Secondly, if she’s asking us questions, it’s harder for us to interrupt long enough to convince her that she needs to eat her meat as well as her vegetables.
Recent dinner conversation topics have included:
- Why Daddy never answers his phone (a valid question) and whether it’s because he’s working in the ‘boratory (a much better abbreviation than ‘lab’)
- What happened to the dinosaurs?
- Why do we have to take vitamins?
- How do bones stay together?
- There are no fairies in our world, are there? Because they’re all in fairy world, right?
- How old do you need to be to go climbing?
- How do lightbulbs work?
- How can you tell if people are married?
- How do you get to run a recycling centre?
- Why do animals die, but not people?
- Do people die?
- What happens to people when they die? Do they get to go home again?
And so on.
But by far the most popular question is: “What things did you and didn’t you have when you were little?”
So far the husband and I have reassured her on the following points:
- No, there were no dinosaurs left when we were little (the husband is putting together a timeline. He’s a little touchy about this one)
- Yes, we had bicycles
- No, there was no internet. No digital cameras. No Skype
- Yes, we had bowls. And clocks
- But there were only four TV channels, and none of them were cBeebies
- Yes, we did have the colour blue!
Some of the questions are harder to answer than others. Still, it’s fascinating to watch her navigate the world, developing her understanding of how things work, what happened before, and where she fits in. Right now, she thinks she’d like to get married, one day, but she still wants to live with me. She’d like to run a hardware store, or a recycling centre, or maybe be a chef. Or run an ice cream cafe. Or just look after me and clean the house (my favourite).
And sometimes, her analysis of the world around her is alarmingly astute. For example, yesterday, she described my job to me. It started with, “You don’t get holidays, do you Mummy?” and culminated with, “And then you send the book to your agent, and she says, ‘No! Make it more exciting! Use bigger letters!'”
Which, both the agent and I agreed, was pretty much true.
Sigh. Suppose I’d better go and use some bigger letters in the latest draft…