Kids and What I Learned Today – What If…?

Our morning school day routine is perfectly timed so that we have to leave the house at 6:50 to avoid long car lines and get LilMan to school by 7:00, 7:04 at the latest.  Every morning we follow the same routine for efficiency  and consistency.  Sounds all good in theory, doesn’t it?…  you might ask yourself why in the world is she so uptight about the specific times and routine?

What if?"

Well it boils down to the amount of time in the car and how exposed  I want to be to the endless questions.   It’s like the kids go to bed and the questions become a laundry list in their heads that builds up to the point of urgency that they MUST HAVE THEM ANSWERED NOW!  And from the moment they wake up until I drop them off it’s a verbal assault of questions I can’t possibly have an answer to…  they really, really think about these questions!

My kids are 4 and 7, and if you have kids around the same age you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you have older kids you’ll tell me – ‘ahhh the curiosity, that’s such a good age” with a nostalgic look on your face: if you don’t have kids – you’d shrug and ask ‘we’ll how else are they going to know?’  Yep, I’ve had these conversations…what I don’t think people get is the level to which the assault occurs.

Let’s consider for a moment the language I’ve used so far: “Assault, barrage, exposed” – that’s what it feels like – EVERY MORNING!

On the 10 minute drive to drop off LilMan at school, I’m asked similar questions almost every morning and any logical answer that I may provide is rebuffed because of the ‘what if’s’.  Still don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here is a conversation that I have played over and over in my head to determine how else could I have answered these questions:

LilMan – ‘What if Zombies were real?’

Me – ‘But they are not real.’

LilMan – ‘But what if they were? What if they could break through steel? What if they could break through brick? What would we do?’

Me – ‘Well, I guess we’d need to find a different way to build houses.’

LilMan – He meditates a bit on my response.  ‘What would the house be made out of?’

Me – ‘I don’t know. We’d have to get inventive on what materials we’d use to keep the bad people out.’

LilMan – ‘Infentive, what does that mean?’

Me – ‘Inventive, means create something new or different.’

LilMan – ‘What if zombies ate your brain? Can they eat other zombies brains?’

Me – ‘I don’t know, I guess I’d turn into a zombie too. I don’t think zombies have brains, I think that’s how they become zombies.’ I shake my head  ‘Look, there are no such things as zombies, walking dead:  there are only people who don’t think – which is where I think the term came from – zombie is someone who moves around without thinking…’

LilMan – without missing a beat, because clearly he didn’t hear the second part of my statement and was too busy formulating the next question: ‘but what if they did have brains and they could think, what then?  They’d be able to do whatever they wanted, open doors, break through walls…

Me – feeling slightly depleted – there is not enough coffee for this (period).  ‘I don’t know.’  I turn into the drop off lane – thank God.

LilMan – “If zombies could think, would they build homes too? What would they be made out of?  Would they try and keep normal people out?’

Me – Almost there ‘I don’t know, I guess they’d want to keep the normal people out cause they’d want to get ride of the zombies – so yeah that makes since.’

 Did I just say – “that makes since.”  I did…{sigh}

The teacher opens his door and with that LilMan is on his way to his class.

Now, Em is remains.  Her drive is a bit longer, 30 minutes, and while LilMan has been asking questions, she’s been pretty quiet.  She’s been coming up with a list of questions – but thankfully her questions only last for about another 10 minutes before she starts singing.

Her questions take on different path; her line of questioning is not to gain information, but rather to just plain old annoy me – I’m certain of it.  She asks non-discript questions that when I try and get clarification so that I can answer, she’ll give me the “no, mom” and repeat the same exact question.  If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about – here is the exact scenario:

Em – ‘Mom, what is that thing?’

Me – ‘What thing?’

Em- ‘No mom, what is that thing?’

Me – ‘What thing?’

Em – {sigh} and roll of the eyes ‘That thing over there?’

Me – “Where?”

Em – with an escalating voice “There!”

Me – ‘Em, I’m driving.  Can you describe it for me?

Em – ‘Urggh, that thing over there – what is that thing!’

Me – ‘Em, again I’m driving – describe it?’

Em – ‘No mom, what is that thing!?’

Me – now leaning on the driver side window with my head in my hand {sigh} – ‘I don’t know.’

Now I’m an idiot… and the singing begins.

Today, is Saturday, I don’t have these questions – the kids are inside quietly watching cartoons, playing on the iPad and I am sitting on the back porch with Sophie, listening to the rain and writing this because I have a quiet moment to reflect on why they keep doing this.  And I think it boils down to this: LilMan is just inquisitive and has an active imagination that is looking for logical answers to the “what ifs”, even if there isn’t a possibility for the “what if” to occur in my mind – in his mind there is always a possibility.  That’s kind-of cool…

That’s an interesting perspective to me and takes me down my own line of questioning: with all of his “what if”  questions, is he going to be a great inventor because he can ask these what if questions and come up with solutions to use for the what ifs? Is he doing what I ask of the people I work with, come up with solutions to the what if x happens, what would your mitigation plan be? What if y happens, what would your mitigation plan be?  Am I just as annoying to them with my questions on mitigation plans?  Will my son be a Project Manager...I paused for a moment to think through this onslaught of questions I’m spilling out onto my computer – and think – nah – he can only handle one thing at a time – maybe an inventor…a hyper-focused inventor out to solve the scenarios others can’t even think of…I like that – I’ll go with that. :)

Em, on the other hand, I think she is just trying to annoy the $hit out of me.

What I learned today – I’ve always prayed for patience – God’s answer was to give me kids.  They are a daily test to challenge my patience.  Some days I fail and learn and some days I’m tested and pass.  It’s only on quiet mornings and evenings that I know whether I’m passing or failing – and on this quiet Saturday morning, I think I’m not an A student, I’m not an F student, but I’m averaging a low B, high C.  Always room for improvement and to ask myself – what if I tried this, what if I tried that…:)

  • Lynda Self
    September 30, 2013, 7:48 am

    I am so glad you caught “since” – I was ready to email you about a typo. Kids are really trying. It kills me when people gloss over about parenthood like it is the happiest, sweetest, best thing that ever happened to them. I think they have never been tried by their kids. Don’t get me wrong – I love my children, but it is the hardest thing that a person can embark upon (parenthood, that is).

    • October 23, 2013, 10:17 pm

      Thanks Lynda for the comment! I often feel that parenthood is a cult: people tell you “it will change your world”, “it’s the best thing you can ever do”, “you cannot imagine the happiness when…”
      And here is the thing, they make it sound so fabulous, but what they fail to mention is the sleepless nights, the arguing siblings, the back talking, the stubbornness as they try to find themselves, the level of work it takes to keep calm and carry on, the after school homework, the cost of daycare – etc., etc., etc,.
      But here is the thing about a cult, you can’t get out – that’s parenthood. :) That said, I love my kids and I can’t wait to see what they become – outside of my house. :) (joking – sort of).