I can’t believe I am going to complain about this. So often I hold it up as something to be praised and celebrated. And it is. Absolutely. Our children’s wonder at the world is special and unique. Everything is new. Everything is something to be learned. And children love to learn. It is a quality we adults need. Too often we have lost our ability to wonder at the simple but astounding things of the world around us. We need children to remind us of the marvel of creation. We need their questions…
….But sometimes it is just too much.
“What is water?”
“Why do I like to touch it?”
“Why did God make water?”
“Why do fish swim in water?”
“Why do I like water?”
“What is water made of?”
“Do you like water?”
“Do birds like water?”
“Does Grandpa like water?”
“Why is water wet?”
“Why is grass green?”
Oh for the love of all that is good and holy! Stop. Now. Seriously. I will throw water on you if you don’t!
It is no secret I love my child. But there are times, especially when he gets in his incessant-never-ending-I’m-going-to-dull-your-brain-with-questions mode that I want to scream. Honestly.
I’m not proud of this, but there have been times this has driven me so nuts that he would win a maturity contest. He’s three. He’ll start asking questions and, when I can no longer take it, I begin to ask him questions until he taps out by saying, “Daddy, please stop asking questions.” Usually my first response to his request is a whiny, “Why do you want me to stop asking questions?”
I’m not proud.
I get that he is curious. I get that he is learning. Actually, I love it. I want him to be a life-long learner. So I often bite my tongue, fight back the glaze that wants to cover my eyes, and endure the pain that is the third degree about where water goes in the toilet. Because I don’t want my son to be afraid to ask questions. I don’t want him to learn that asking questions is something that will get you in trouble. That it will produce pain. He will learn that from others, but I don’t want him to learn that from me. I want to encourage his curiosity.
I think I need to admit that I’m just not curious any more. I don’t care why there are dead worms in the sandbox. That’s what happens. Worms crawl in sandboxes and die. No, they don’t want to die, but they just do. That’s life. That’s just the way it is.
I’ve been saying that a lot to get out of the black-hole of questions. “That’s just the way it is.” The other day my son looked at me and said, “Daddy. Babies eat milk and foxes eat birds. That’s just the way it is.”
Yes, yes it is.
But I don’t want him to develop a theology of “That’s just the way it is.” I want him to have a theology of “That’s the way it could be.” I want him to have an imagination captured, not by what is in front of him, but what could be in front of him. And that’s so very different. In front of us is injustice and poverty and human trafficking and inequality and hatred and suffering. What could be in front of us is justice and hope and equal rights and reconciliation and hope. But those will never exist in a world that is “just the way it is.”
My hope is that he will always ask questions. Maybe some day the questions won’t be about what is, but about what could be.
“What if people advocated for one another?”
“What if we pushed back against consumerism?”
“What if religion and nationalism weren’t tied together?”
“What if people treated each other as humans and not objects or means?”
“What if love ruled rather than fear?”
So I let him ask questions. I bite my tongue. I bang my head against the steering wheel while we drive. I take aspirin. I read Wikipedia to stay ahead of him. Because that’s what I can do to help him to stay curious about the world and, hopefully, long for what could be.