Another round of ‘would you rather’ might make me go slowly insane

One child must be on course for a world record in question-asking. His mind never seems to rest. He is making sure ours doesn’t either

There are times I’m in awe of my children’s relentless curiosity and contemplation of things that, strangely, never enter my mind

There are times I’m in awe of my children’s relentless curiosity and contemplation of things that, strangely, never enter my mind

 
This summer, The Irish Times will offer tips, advice and information for parents on how to help their children thrive during the holiday months. Read all about it at  irishtimes.com/summeroffamily

I read something on t’internet the other day which says young children ask on average 73 questions per day, and my immediate reaction was “what sort of ridiculous underestimation of reality is that?”

Mine ask at least that many an hour, and, I’d hazard a guess, double that amount at bedtime.

At least some of the time I’ll confess to being on auto-nod – not really taking in what they’re saying, half listening for words that suggest potential danger or an inadvertent commitment to handing over my credit card to buy some “must-have” just spotted online or on TV.

Other times, when the question is particularly random or bizarre, I’ll defer to Grumps, my father-in-law, and suggest they give him a call. Sharing is caring, I figure.

As is typical in summer, they’ve upped their night-time question game substantially. No longer is developing an unquenchable thirst the only tactic used in sleep avoidance. Now there is an unquenchable thirst for knowledge too – particularly after 10pm at night.

Like the “I can’t sleep” protestations from the youngest two recently as they marched down the stairs clearly cross with each other. “Who has more bones, a giraffe or a mouse?” one asked determined to get to the bottom of it. With two opposing views, I was the only one who stood to lose by answering.

Or the sudden middle-of-the-night curiosity about biology and their arrival into the world. “Why did some of us come out of your belly and others out of your dagina?” came the question in urgent need of answering during another nocturnal visit. “And sure while you’re telling me, mammy, can I have some milk and a digestive biscuit because I think I forgot to have my night time drink.”

Tag team

One particular child must be on course for a new world record in question-asking. His mind never seems to rest. He seems intent on making sure ours doesn’t either.

And he has an apprentice in his younger brother. They’re like a tag team with their questions, alternative scenarios and the sense of urgency seems directly related not only to bedtime but to how busy I might be at any given moment.

“I can go to the pub,” one small child informed me excitedly as I typed away on my laptop on the dining room table.

“What?” I asked, continuing with the task in hand.

“I can go to the pub. The man said on the telly that children can go to the pub?” he continued, delighted with himself it seemed

The curly-haired dude appeared by his brother’s side, immediately inquisitive about this new place he might go to. “What’s a pub?” he asked.

“It’s a place where you can get beer,” the announcer of this apparent exciting new development answered. “Kids can go there now. They said on the telly,” he added, confidently.

“Aw, I don’t like beer,” the smallest replied disappointed, before running off. The bringer of all news, relevant and otherwise, was on his trail once he realised the pubs mightn’t be as good craic as the biggest waterslide in the world anyhow and so he wondered instead when he might be able to go there.

Curiosity

There are times I’m in awe of my children’s relentless curiosity and contemplation of things that, strangely, never enter my mind. And there are other times when I wonder if I might go slowly insane during yet another round of “would you rather”, which can happen any time, any place and at any number of intervals. Usually when you’re under pressure to get something done.

“What would you rather – be trapped in a cage with sharks or snakes?” he who has so many questions asked on one such occasion. And for those wondering, yes ,the cage was under water.

There are no correct answers to these questions, or at least not one that will be accepted without further questioning of your rationale. There is also no guarantee that the conversation won’t extend beyond the initial participants and before you know it you’re Googling bull sharks and black cobras and the measurements of the gaps between bars on shark proof cages, wondering how those strong those bars really are and how long since the sharks have last eaten, all the while knowing you have no intention of ever setting foot in the water anyway.

“When will Covid be gone?” the curly haired one asked randomly in the middle of it all.

“So how venomous are these snakes?” I replied, expertly avoiding the question that makes it hard for me to sleep at night too.

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